Mediation Theatre

Karl Mackie of CEDR with Dids Macdonald CEO ACID

At the first ACID intellectual property (IP) Mediation Theatre, held at the UK Intellectual Property Office, demonstrating the dynamics of two “real life” disputes involving a patent and design right infringement, ACID (Anti Copying In Design) joined forces with CEDR (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) to demonstrate the effectiveness of mediation as a real alternative to litigation. According to CEDR £33 billion is lost each year in the UK through time lost in conflicts in the workplace.

In the first “theatre” with lawyer representation, CEDR Mediator Alan Limbury, calmly and creatively facilitated and guided the patent dispute, whose parties were in deep disagreement over ownership of the invention, into the crafting of an agreement with both parties into a manufacturing and licensing deal. Prior to the mediation both parties were determined to go to a final court hearing to determine ownership of the invention.

The second “IP theatre” with parties only, using an actual ACID case study, involved a design right issue between a UK and Danish company, both in the trimmings business. Patrick Walker, Director of Advocacy at ACID Accredited law firm Hammonds, used his mediator skills effectively to draw out the key points of the dispute quickly and effectively to create a sound basis for bargaining and negotiation between the two parties. What could have resulted in a slanging match between professionals, not to mention legal proceedings, resulted in a framework for a productive and long term licensing relationship.

In her summary, Dids Macdonald CEO of ACID, a keen supporter of mediation, said, “I can honestly say that none of the 1800 or so mediations that we have facilitated have been the same but one consistent theme is how effective mediation is as a real alternative to litigation. I believe there is a need for a) mediation to enter the legal dispute equation sooner in accordance with Crown Prosecution Rules and b) there is a huge learning curve to be achieved so that those companies who follow the litigation route in disputes are fully aware of access to, and the availability of, effective mediation by trained and experienced experts in the field of alternative dispute resolution”.

According to CEDR “A New case brings impassioned plea from High Court Judge for more mediation”   Lord Justice Ward delivered the following comments in the judgment for the case of Egan v Motor Services (Bath) [2007] EWCA Civ 1002:

“What I have found profoundly unsatisfactory, and made my views clear in the course of argument, is the fact that the parties have between them spent in the region of £100,000 arguing over a claim which is worth about £6,000.  In the florid language of the argument, I regarded them, one or other, if not both, of them, as “completely cuckoo” to have engaged in such expensive litigation with so little at stake.”


Mark Jefferies, June Davies and Steve Probert from UKIPO

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