Aspic and Wipo lay out ASP guidelines

The ASP Industry Consortium (Aspic) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo) have agreed a set of guidelines and...

The ASP Industry Consortium (Aspic) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo) have agreed a set of guidelines and procedures for application service providers (ASPs) in a bid to resolve disputes efficiently.

The pair have been working on the guidelines for the past year and are in the process of publishing their suggestions.

The guidelines and procedures will be used by the Wipo's arbitration and mediation centre in disputes involving an ASP. It will not be obligatory for ASPs to follow the Aspic/Wipo recommendations, but the two organisations hope they will do so to demonstrate to customers that they use best business practices.

"The procedures are not mandatory, but we recommend them," said Francis Gurry, assistant director general of Wipo. "We hope people will try them and find them a satisfactory alternative to slogging it out in court."

The process of drawing up the recommendations began just under a year ago, when Aspic asked Wipo for assistance. The organisation is well versed in dispute avoidance, particularly in wrangles over intellectual property and domain names.

The ASP model has not met initial expectations but service providers are expected to play an increasing role in coming years. Legal questions, particularly about who owns data, have contributed to the slow start.

Gurry recommends that customers looking to sign up with an ASP should check to see whether the provider follows the guidelines.

The first Aspic/Wipo suggestion is about preventing disputes. "There's an emphasis on dispute prevention through a series of recommendations on service level agreements," said Gurry.

He added that other recommendations cover areas such as multinational deals, liability issues, mediation suggestions and arbitration.

"We will now try to get the recommendations accepted as widely as possible and build confidence that this is a good way to solve disputes," Gurry said.

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