The modernised legal framework for intellectual property (IP) in the Cayman Islands features a new Trade Marks Law that has facilitated a year-long surge in local registrations for company brands.
'Direct trade marks registration has been strong', said Candace Westby, Head of Intellectual Property for the Cayman Islands Intellectual Property Office (CIIPO). 'Under the previous law, we averaged 300 applications per year. But since the August 2017 commencement of the new Trade Marks Law, we've doubled that number – we've received 621 applications in the past 12 months'.
'CIIPO's registration of trade marks, then, provides a key barometer for Cayman's IP growth', she said.
According to Deputy Registrar of Intellectual Property Donnell Dixon, Government recognised a need for a new IP regime more than 15 years ago and, after reviewing the former framework, charted a path in 2009 to modernise IP – trade marks, design rights, copyright and patents.
'Once word got out years ago that Government intended to revamp Cayman's IP regime, industry stakeholders expressed interest in using the jurisdiction as their IP hub', Mr Dixon said. 'We had great input on legislative changes from private sector representatives as well'.
In addition to the new trade marks law last August, Government enacted legislation to facilitate the extension of design rights to Cayman. In 2016, Government updated Cayman's copyright law, to widen the scope of creative media that are locally protected; and made minor adjustments to the patents law, to give it its own distinction as a form of IP.
The full suite of IP laws, now in force, has resulted in additional legal expertise on island that assists companies and individuals to better protect their IP creations locally.
CIIPO's two key roles are registering IP, and providing information to the local and global public about IP protection in Cayman. Mrs Westby explained that as part of the modernisation, copyrights do not require local registration, and design rights that previously had no protection in the Islands can now be registered by extension in Cayman.
In the past year, CIIPO has been building public awareness regarding Cayman's new IP regime through efforts such as information sessions with members of the Sister Islands and numerous media appearances. Within Government, it has conducted training for the Department of Commerce and Investment, and Customs. CIIPO's own staff has also attended training, through the UK's IP Office in Wales and the International Trademark Association's annual and leadership meetings.
Going forward, Government will continue to attract IP business by continuing to strengthen its legal framework.
'Prior to 2017, persons were not able to protect the unique physical appearance of an item, or part of it, at all in Cayman', Mrs Westby said. 'Then last August, the new design rights law passed to allow for protection by way of extension'.
'We're currently drafting design rights legislation that would allow for direct registration in the future and eliminate the need for the extension system', she said.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.