Ma. Consuelo C. Agno
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of the Philippines has formally joined the courts and other pertinent agencies in the government in using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to resolve disputes.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004 declared that it is “the policy of the State to actively promote party autonomy in the resolution of disputes or the freedom of the parties to make their own arrangements to resolve their disputes.
Towards this end, the State shall encourage and actively promote the use of ADR as an important means to achieve speedy and impartial justice and de-clog court dockets. As such, the State shall provide means for the use of ADR as an efficient tool and an alternative procedure for the resolution of appropriate cases”.
Under the act, the Supreme Court and the executive branch through the president of the Philippines issued the Special Rules of Court on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Instituting the Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Executive Branch of the Government (executive order), respectively.
On the basis of the executive order, the Rules of Procedure for IPO Mediation Proceedings were promulgated and signed by IPO Director General Ricardo R. Blancaflor on October 5, 2010. These rules took effect on October 21, 2010.
“Under these rules on IPO mediation, the referral of the cases as enumerated is now mandatory. Once referred to mediation, adjudication will be suspended until the Mediation Office sends the case back for resumption of the proceedings. The parties are given 60 days, which is extendable for another 30 days, to settle their dispute. If no agreement is reached, the mediation will be terminated.”
The cases covered by these new rules include, among others, administrative complaints for intellectual property rights violations, inter partes proceedings such as opposition/cancellation cases involving patents and trademarks, cases appealed to the Office of the Director General (ODG) from the decisions of the Bureau of Legal Affairs (BLA), and disputes relating to the terms of licence involving the author’s rights to public performance or other communication of his work. Under these rules on IPO mediation, the referral of the cases as enumerated is now mandatory. Once referred to mediation, adjudication will be suspended until the Mediation Office sends the case back for resumption of the proceedings.
The parties are given 60 days, which is extendable for another 30 days, to settle their dispute. If no agreement is reached, the mediation will be terminated.
The failure of the party who filed the case to appear before the mediation is grounds for the dismissal of the case. The respondent may be declared in default if he fails to participate in the mediation proceedings.
Another salient feature of the IPO mediation is the confidentiality of the entire proceeding: “Any admission and statement made during mediation shall be inadmissible in a proceeding, unless specifically provided by law.”
Subject to contempt and other sanctions provided by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004, the parties are not allowed to pass on any information obtained in the course of the mediation proceedings to any person or to mention them through other means. If any of this information is cited in any document or pleading of the case, it may be expunged from the records.
Ma. Consuelo C. Agno is a senior associate of Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org