New copyright legislation comes into effect in Cayman Thursday that will provide greater legal rights to Cayman’s musicians, visual artists and others in the creative fields, and is the first step in modernising intellectual property (IP) legislation. Commerce Minister Wayne Panton said government had plans to present more bills in September to update existing trade mark legislation for local registration and design rights. Under the current rules people cannot register their trade marks in Cayman without first obtaining protection in the UK, and design rights are unprotected.
“Local artists and investors have been frustrated for many years by the lack of modern IP protection in Cayman, and clamoured for improved rights,” the minister said. He explained that copyright legislation had offered some level of protection but was outdated and local artists could not properly protect their digital music, images and other digital creations.
Panton said in a statement from his ministry that by updating local IP legislation, Cayman also would become more attractive to investors.
“If entrepreneurs know their works will be protected in Cayman, they have an incentive to locate here, create jobs here, and spend money in our economy,” he said. “Businesses such as Health City Cayman Islands, Cayman Enterprise City and the entities operating within them, as well as other individuals and businesses in Cayman who also benefit from IP protection, will be able to attract more investment interest.”
The minister said that the work on the new legislation began about two years ago, when Cayman was under the UK Copyright Act 1956, a law written before digital music, DVDs, and other forms of creativity existed.
“In order to modernise our law, then, Cayman first had to ask the UK to extend to us its 1988 Copyright Act – which itself has been updated several times. The UK Privy Council granted this extension in March 2015, and since then my ministry has been making necessary arrangements for local implementation,” Panton said.
If the Trade Marks Bill passes through the LA in September, people and companies would then be able to register their brands and company logos locally. It would also remove the exclusive rights to the use of certain words which were registered in the UK such as ‘Cayman’.
As defined by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, design rights refer to the physical appearance of an item or a part of it, and can apply to industrial as well as handicraft items. Currently, there is no mechanism that allows design rights to be registered in the Cayman Islands but government intends to rectify this by allowing design rights registered in the UK to be extended to the Cayman Islands.
Panton said that copyright legislation was just the beginning.
“By allowing people to register a range of IP rights in a more efficient, cost effective manner, we are assisting them in exercising their rights if anyone infringes upon them,” he said. “This represents a major improvement to our commerce legislation, and to our reputation as a leading jurisdiction for all types of businesses.”