Today’s globalized and innovation-driven economy is built on a foundation of Intellectual Property (IP) assets belonging to businesses and individuals alike. The successful commercialization of every endeavor of modern discipline relies on the exploitation of Intellectual Property.
In the words of Roman author Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, “Si vis pacem, para bellum” ‘If you want peace, prepare for war’. The marked increase in IP-centric transactions creates the need for effective resolution mechanisms that balance the interests of all parties involved. IP Practice is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing and highest paying areas of legal practice.

In terms of statistics, Chairman of the NBA Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NBA ICLE), Mr. Tobenna Erojikwe revealed that more than 5,000 Lawyers attended the ICLE training on IP which held in April, 2023. The NBA ICLE under his watch continues to champion empowering Lawyers in these new, niche areas of law. The true pathway to empowerment is to feed the mind. Kudos to the NBA ICLE.

This article delves into the opportunities and benefits of specializing in Intellectual Property Mediation as a pathway to resolving complex disputes in the modern landscape.

All Disputes are IP Disputes
Intellectual Property (IP) disputes arise when there is a disagreement or conflict concerning the ownership, use, or infringement of intellectual property rights. As the primary asset of choice, commercial disputes are often directly or indirectly linked to IP Assets.
IP disputes can occur between individuals, businesses, organizations, and even governments and typically involve legal issues related to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Intellectual property refers to a wide range of intangible assets, including UGC (User Generated Content), Software, Know-How, Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Trade Secrets, Industrial Designs and so on.

While IP disputes can be complex and multifaceted, requiring specialized knowledge of intellectual property law and industry practices, they are becoming more commonplace in a world of digital content creators. Effective management and resolution of intellectual property disputes are essential to safeguarding intellectual property rights, promoting innovation and creativity, and fostering a fair and competitive marketplace for intellectual property assets.

A few examples of common IP disputes in today’s Digital Economy include: patent infringement, copyright infringement, trademark infringement, domain name disputes, licensing and royalty disputes, trade secret misappropriation, image rights disputes among others.

What is IP Mediation?
Intellectual Property Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism designed to facilitate constructive dialogue and negotiation between parties involved in an IP disputes. Unlike traditional litigation, which can be costly, time-consuming, and adversarial in nature, mediation offers a collaborative and confidential environment where parties can explore creative solutions and reach mutually acceptable outcomes.

In Nigeria, delays caused by traditional adversarial proceedings like litigation can be costly for the exploitation of IP assets. For example, a writing dispute on a movie set may cost the Producers millions of naira per day of delay. In the same vein, prolonged Trademark Opposition proceedings can lead to accumulated demurrage at the ports.

Intellectual property mediation fosters a collaborative approach to dispute resolution, where parties are encouraged to explore win-win solutions that preserve business relationships and promote innovation. By helping parties identify common interests and shared goals, IP mediators play a crucial role in fostering a culture of collaboration and creativity in the IP ecosystem.

Growing Industry Demand
As the number of intellectual property disputes continues to rise, there is a growing demand for mediators with expertise in IP Law in both formal and informal communities of Creators. Specializing in IP Mediation opens up a range of opportunities for lawyers (and non-lawyers) to work with businesses, organizations, and individuals seeking efficient and cost-effective solutions to their IP conflicts.

Cross-Border and International Mediation
With the globalization of commerce and technology, there is an increasing demand for lawyers with expertise in cross-border and international mediation of intellectual property disputes. Firms are looking for collaborators to work on complex IP cases across multiple jurisdictions, cultural differences, and diverse legal systems.

Broader Career Pathways
Specializing in intellectual property mediation opens doors to diverse career opportunities across various sectors and industries. IP mediators may work independently as private practitioners, or may be affiliated with Mediation Firms, Law Firms, Corporate Legal Departments, Government Agencies, or International Organizations specializing in IP rights protection and enforcement.

Conclusion
In conclusion, specializing in intellectual property mediation presents a promising pathway for legal professionals seeking to build a career that is globally accepted and locally relevant. As the demand for IP mediation continues to grow, there are ample opportunities for practitioners to contribute to the promotion of collaboration, innovation, and access to justice in the dynamic landscape of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement.

Mr. Anthony Bamidele-Ojo is a Legal Practitioner and Legal Adviser to the Abuja Literary Society.

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