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Cayman gives bootlegs the boot

| 27/03/2015 | 1 Comment

(CNS Business): Big changes are coming to Cayman’s current copyright laws, change that will not only offer better intellectual property protection, but also increase government revenue by multiples of $5 to $10 million in direct benefits. On Thursday government officials and cabinet members held a press conference to discuss the details of the current laws and the new laws they plan to implement in the Cayman Islands. 

As of now, Cayman Islands copyright laws date back to the UK Copyright Act of 1956. The UK repealed that act in 1988 but the Cayman Islands law remained the same. However, the UK has now extended its current copyright act to the Cayman Islands. Officials said they have been working with authorities in the UK for about six months in order to fully implement the new order.

“We want the opportunity to enhance this, and we need to be able, through our IP modernisations, to give our businesses the best opportunity to develop and create the significant leg of our economy,” Commerce Minister Wayne Panton stated at the meeting.

The act has been extended by the Copyright (Cayman Islands) Order 2015, which was passed by the UK Privy Council on 19 March. The new set of copyright laws will replace the UK’s 1956 Act and in its place will be the extensions of the UK’s 1988 Copyright Act.

“The bigger picture is the international picture, bringing Cayman up to modern intellectual property law standards to enable Cayman to compete on a level playing field on an international basis,” Huw Moses, Managing Partner in the intellectual property firm of HSM IP, said.

Moses explained when the 1956 Copyright laws were created technology like we have today did not exist. This change is aimed to bring Cayman’s laws up to date in a modern environment.

“That’s a very outdated piece of legislation, because in 1956, no one had really heard about software, DVD’s, television stations etc. The new 1988 UK Act, when it comes into affect, will update that regime here in the Cayman Islands,” he said.

Minister Panton said there are several benefits to modernizing Cayman’s copyright laws, one being better protection for locally created content like the works of artists, musicians and authors, as well as the attraction of foreign investment in areas in which intellectual property protection is important, for example technology companies. The minister added that right now companies are taking their business to other jurisdictions where they know their copyright laws will be protected.

“We are potentially losing business and having these types of rights, and the ability to preserve those in Cayman at an international standard, will enable us to keep a lot of business and attract a lot more international business in Cayman, within our financial services jurisdiction,” Panton said

However, at Thursday’s press conference officials stressed that once UK’s 1988 Copyright laws are implemented in Cayman, their main priority is to then develop Cayman’s own copyright laws that are industry specific to our business sector and economy. Minister Panton said Cayman’s own copyright laws will be similar to the 1988 copyright laws.

Government officials explained at the meeting, as of now there are laws against a business or individual selling items such as “bootleg” CD’s, DVD’s, designer items, but to take action against that crime is very expensive. Under the new legislation, businesses that are infringing on copyrights will be subjected to legal action if the copyright holder decides to enforce their rights. Then the DCI could revoke the licence of that business. DCI Director Ryan Rajkumarsingh said his department will eventually have a total of five inspectors to investigate claims regarding copyrights, as well as other issues involving illegal trade of goods.

“Proprietors will be looking, no doubt, to enforce their rights in the Cayman Islands and people who are engaged in said business in the Cayman Islands may well find themselves in some difficulty once the new legislation comes into full force,” explained Moses.

Moses said that to bring the IP laws up to date is not to put people out of business who sell “bootleg” DVD’s and designer handbags, but by raising our standards it makes us more interesting as a place where people want to market something.

The minister added there are three major pillars they are focusing on: advancing copyright laws, raising the standards for trademark and patent laws in Cayman.

“The copyrights and patents, in particular, are two very significant elements of protection and rights that we need to have in Cayman in order to provide the firm foundation for this new leg of our economy, this low impact leg of our economy that we are trying to bring about and enhance,” Panton stated.

The HSM IP partner stated that, as of now, the Cayman Islands has 5,000 to 6,000 registered trademarks. In other Caribbean islands that already have a local regime like the one that will be introduced here, the number of trademarks runs into the hundreds of thousands, he explained, stressing that Cayman is tremendously losing out by not having these updated laws.

“So we can imagine that once the local regime passes into Cayman law, we are going to see a lot more brand owners applying to protect their trademarks in the Cayman Islands, which will of course be a benefit to the local economy,” Moses explained.

Although, the Cayman Islands does currently have its own trademark and patent laws, officials explained they want to expand the law to allow local entrepreneurs the protection they need when taking their ideas outside of Cayman.

Moses added, “On the trademark side, it’s a slightly different picture. We already have our own trademark and patent law, but that law at the moment requires people to first obtained a trademark registration in the United Kingdom before they can register in the Cayman Islands. The new regime will allow them to directly register in the Cayman Islands, which of course will be a major benefit for local brand owners who want to have a trademark but don’t want to have to register in the UK.”

Minister Panton explained there are consequences for a country that does not have a legitimate copyright regime. He added it’s not just about attracting business, but also about international recognition for the Cayman Islands and the enhancement of the international reputation of this jurisdiction. Government officials stated the IP modernisation initiative would become the “backbone” of future efforts to enhance the information technology sector in Cayman’s economy.

“The impact, I think, is going to be very significant. It will provide hundreds of jobs and, very importantly, it’s going to provide opportunities for many young Caymanians who are very interested in this area,” the minister stated.

As of now, cabinet officials are developing an education process to better understand what needs to be done for each specific industry in our jurisdiction.

Minister Panton said the 1988 Copyright laws are expected to be implemented by the third quarter of this year. Then, once regulations have been finalised and issued, officials hope to have Cayman’s own version of copyright laws completed by 2016.

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Category: Featured, Finance, Law, Uncategorized, Video

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I hope the protection afforded by these new laws will be extended to literary and musical works. Having said that, performing artists should know that fully paid members of the performing rights society in the UK get protection and recognition of their works through virtue of Cayman being a UK territory – sign up!

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