New law boosts trade mark registrations

Since the Trade Marks Law came into effect 1 August 2017, modernising legislation which originally dates from the 1970s, the Cayman Islands Intellectual Property Office (CIIPO) has received 50% of the total number of applications to register trade marks usually submitted in a year. As of 29 August, the office had received more than 150 applications compared to around 300 annually, with the first registration under the new law for the Sir Turtle logo used by the Department of Tourism (DoT).

The updated legislative framework allows for companies and individuals to register their trade marks in Cayman in a cost-effective and timely manner.

Previously, the brands would be registered in the UK and then the holder would apply to get that extended to Cayman, a process, though straightforward, that could prove timely and expensive.

Minister of Financial Services Tara Rivers, under which CIIPO falls, said at a press conference held last week announcing the first local entities to register under the new law, “We’re celebrating a new path for business in this country while aiming to inspire our people with the preservation of items that are truly and distinctly Caymanian.”

With the new law, she said, Cayman will now be even more attractive for people and corporations overseas looking to do business here. “The Trademarks Law is really one of four pieces of intellectual property legislation that are now in effect and offer protection for various creations of the mind,” she said.

The base fee for registering a trademark is $200, plus $75 for each of the classes under which it can be registered. There is also an annual $200 fee, plus $100 for each class. At the end of a 10-year period, the holder would need to renew registration to continue the trademark protection.

Dax Basdeo, chief officer in the ministry, spoke of the advantages of local registration to the economy. “As our economy has grown and become more integrated into global trade, we’ll see an increase of interest in the registration of trademarks in Cayman. The challenge has always been that most forms of intellectual property registration were dependent on a registration first being initiated in the United Kingdom,” he said.

He foresees benefits for Caymanians as well. “The push to modernise IP regime is about meeting the needs of Cayman citizens who have clamoured for modern protection for their creative works. Our hope is that persons will be more motivated to create their various trademarks knowing the process of registering them here is easier, more affordable and ultimately more accessible.”

He also anticipates a knock-on effect for employment. “Our local registration system for trademarks will also open up additional career opportunities for Caymanians,” he said.

“As persons exercise the right to safeguard their IP against infringement from others, they will need Cayman-based agents and counsel to assist with this process. This new field of employment may be small but it will serve to strengthen the attractiveness of our jurisdiction to global businesses that want to ensure they have a strong international portfolio of protected IP.”

The trademarks registered in Cayman, however, will not offer protection in any other jurisdiction, explained Candace Westby, trade marks examiner at CIIPO.

“Something to remember is that Intellectual Property protection is territorial. In order for you to protect your brand in other countries you’d have to first have it registered there,” she said. “The protection in the Cayman Islands is only for the Cayman Islands.”

In noting the registration of the Sir Turtle logo, Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism Moses Kirkconnell added that the third trademark registered was the image seen with a scarf on Cayman Airways planes. He also recounted the importance of turtles to Cayman’s history and that it was created in 1963 by Suzy Soto.

“She not only recognised the importance and the growth from 1503 of what turtle meant to the Cayman Islands, but she recognised it had to live on forever for it to be a brand and for us to take advantage of it,” Kirkconnell said, noting that Soto sold it the Department of Tourism for one dollar. “I don’t know how much that says for her, what she has done for Cayman, and what she means to the Cayman Islands and the people.”

As for registering the trademark in Cayman, Kirkconnell said, “We’re extremely pleased to take advantage of that in our jurisdiction which this new legislation does. The IP registry is good for business and good for tourism.”

News source: CNS

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