02 October 2009

Practice: Mediation in the IPO

Last week I represented a defendant to a trade mark and passing off claim in a mediation that took place in the new London offices of the Intellectual Property Office. This was the first time I had visited those premises and I was rather taken back to see that they shared them with Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and, even more disconcertingly, the Insolvency Service. The IPO used to share their premises with the Charities Commission in Harmsworth House - rather less ominous for the sort of start-ups and other small businesses I tend to advise and represent.

The mediator was Mr Peter Back. This must have been one of his last mediations since Peter is due to retire very shortly. Peter and I already knew each other since he had spoken at a seminar on IP mediation that I had chaired in Leeds on 10 May 2006. Peter was a very patient and perceptive mediator and the fact that we did not settle was down to the nature of the case and the attitudes of the parties. I have appeared in front of many mediators over the years including some of the most famous and of course I have resolved a few cases myself . Peter was every bit as good as any of them.

The IPO has two advantages over other mediation services. First, its mediators are hearing officers who already know more than most about IP dispute resolution. Secondly, its charges are very reasonable: £1,000 for a full day in London or £750 for a day in Newport.

The new London offices are at 21 Bloomsbury Street which is almost parallel to Tottenham Court Road, It is surrounded by good eateries including TAS a Turkish restaurant which is just across the road. My instructing solicitor bought me a very good lunch there. Rather more inviting than then the Witness Box the former watering hole.

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