by Stephen P. Gilbert
Arbitration of disputes in the life sciences/biotech/pharmaceutical/ medical device field is described, with a discussion of the possible advantages and drawbacks of arbitrating such disputes, identification of issues that may be of special interest when drafting an arbitration clause for the field, and examples of the use of arbitration in the field.
Unique features of arbitration make it advantageous for resolving all types of disputes in the life sciences/biotech/pharmaceutical/medical device field, including disputes specific to the field, disputes that occur more often with STEM than non-STEM enterprises, and disputes than can occur in most commercial settings.
Arbitration has been used in the life sciences/biotech/pharmaceutical/medical device field and can provide confidentiality (which is usually of paramount concern because of the intellectual property often involved in disputes in this field), the ability to choose decision-makers knowledgeable in the relevant field (e.g., licensing, patents), speed, the possibility of avoiding collateral estoppel in U.S. courts, the ability to deal efficiently with multi-national disputes, and cross-border enforcement (e.g., via the New York Convention).
The sometimes arcane law and the complexity, technical subject matter, and value of intellectual property in the field make arbitration a good choice for resolution of many disputes if executive discussions and mediation do not work.