Fifteen years of fighting for format protection

In April 2000, a small group of format-industry pioneers met in Cannes to debate the creation of an international industry body to combat the growing problem of TV-format piracy. The group, drawn from around the world, agreed that action was necessary and endorsed the idea of the Format Recognition and Protection Association (FRAPA). The fledgling association’s aims were succinctly stated: “FRAPA aims to ensure that television formats are respected by the industry and protected by law as intellectual property.”

FRAPA in motion

Over the past 15 years, FRAPA has worked tirelessly to promote the protection and recognition of format rights. Its methodology includes;


At the heart of its suite of services, FRAPA’s mediation expertise has proved its effectiveness time again over the past 15 years, to the benefit of the format community as a whole. In an impressive 80% of the disputes in which it has been called to mediate, FRAPA has succeeded in steering the warring parties towards a mutually acceptable solution.

To date, some 35 format-plagiarism disputes have been mediated successfully. However, since confidentiality is an intrinsic part of this service, FRAPA’s mediation track record remains largely unknown by the wider industry.

FRAPA provides mediation between parties involved in disputes arising out of claims of format plagiarism. Alternative dispute resolution services, such as mediation , are designed to save parties involved in commercial disputes both time and money.
Mediation consists of negotiation between disputants carried out with the assistance of a neutral intermediary. It attempts to reach consensus between the parties involved. The disputants remain in control over both the process and the outcome. Confidentiality serves to encourage frankness and openness by reassuring the parties that any admissions, proposals or offers of settlement will have no consequences beyond the mediation process. In other words, they cannot be used in subsequent litigation.
Mediation helps format-owners, producers and broadcasters to stay out of court by resolving format disputes at their source. An obvious benefit of mediation is that both parties can continue with their business relationships.
Since 2009, FRAPA has been co-operating with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, this specialist UN agency was established in 1994 to offer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) options, in particular arbitration and mediation, for the resolution of international commercial disputes between private parties.
In 2010 — the year of its 10 anniversary — FRAPA joined forces with WIPO – World Intellectual Property Organisation. FRAPA members can now call on the services of the non-profiting-making UN agency, which offers alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms for IP and related disputes.

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center: Partner in TV format dispute resolution

FRAPA and WIPO’s (World Intellectual Property Organization) Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO Center) have joined forces in providing alternative dispute resolution services to address problems of format plagiarism or the unauthorized copying of television formats, such as those used for game, reality or talent shows and sitcoms.

Mediation Service exclusive for FRAPA members

Under the collaboration, the WIPO Center is available to take on mediation activity and will administer TV format-related disputes filed under the WIPO Mediation and Expedited Arbitration Rules for Film and Media – a service FRAPA and WIPO provide exclusively for FRAPA members:

Some disputing partners may feel more confident in the absolute independence of the well regarded WIPO organization for in helping them with their mediation needs.

Erik Wilbers, Director of the WIPO Center, said: “The WIPO Center is pleased to apply its dispute resolution expertise to the format sector. ADR offers interesting benefits for parties involved in format and other creative disputes. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration with FRAPA and its members”.
The costs and burdens of litigation can be damaging. This is why alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation, can help format owners, producers and broadcasters resolve their disputes out of court in a more flexible, confidential and efficient way that can also preserve their business relationships.

Format Registration

In 2000, FRAPA established the Paper Format Registry, which now contains more than 1,200 format proposals. Available exclusively to FRAPA members, the Paper Format Registry provides credible evidence that a piece of work existed the moment it was created….before it made its way to television. In 2005, FRAPA expanded its registration service with the launch of the Digital Online Registry, which is available to both members and non-members. See below.

FRAPA Reports

In 2004, FRAPA issued the format industry’s first major analysis of its market in a report entitled The Global Trade in Television Formats. The FRAPA Reports

In 2004, FRAPA issued the format industry’s first major analysis of its market in a report entitled The Global Trade in Television Formats. The study, which valued the production generated by traded formats at around €6.4bn per annum, provided the first hard evidence that the buying and selling of international formats had become a powerful global business in its own right. In 2008, in response to the rapidly changing economic and media landscape, FRAPA initiated a second report. The result — The FRAPA Report 2009: TV Formats to the World — provided the format community with a comprehensive and up-to-date roadmap of the industry’s 14 key territories. It also revealed that the global format trade had undergone a period of spectacular growth. Between 2006 and 2008, the report estimated total production expenditure on formats to be around €9.3bn, confirming what many in the industry had suspected: that formats are now a key driver of the global entertainment business. Click here to look at the key findings and order a copy of The FRAPA Report 2009: TV Formats to the World.

More about other reports (check the above figures….something not right)

FRAPA Format Awards

The FRAPA Format Awards were launched in 2003 at the Monte Carlo Television Festival. In 2005, they moved to the Rose d’Or Television Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. Two years later, in 2007, FRAPA re-branded the Formats Awards to raise their international impact. In joining with the influential entertainment business publisher C21Media the competition was moved to the world’s foremost audiovisual content trade show: MIPCOM in Cannes, France. As the C21Media/FRAPA Format Awards the annual event now takes place at an exclusive beach-front venue in Cannes, attended by some 250 MIPCOM delegates. As well as the individual awards for formats in different categories each year, the awards committee also presents a Gold Medal to an organisation or individual that has made an outstanding contribution to the worldwide format business.

Click here to look at the photo gallery of the C21Media/FRAPA Format Awards.

List of award-winners 2003-2010