The copyright laws in the Cayman Islands, until very recently, have stemmed from the Copyright (Cayman Islands) Order 1965 (the 1965 Order). The 1965 Order extended certain provisions of the UK Copyright Act 1956 to the Cayman Islands.

The Copyright (Cayman Islands) Order 2015 and the Copyright (Cayman Islands) (Amendment) Order, 2016 (collectively, the New Orders) came into effect in the Cayman Islands on June 30, 2016. These New Orders extend Part 1 of the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended and modernised from time to time) (the 1988 Act) to the Cayman Islands. The application of Part 1 of the 1988 Act is subject to certain exclusions and modifications.

This is a significant development for the Cayman Islands, and the first step in the Cayman Islands' Government's plans to reform and modernise Intellectual Property (IP) laws generally. The result of this enhancement is that the copyright laws in the Cayman Islands are now fully modernised and able to serve a thriving, innovative, and entrepreneurial environment.

The World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) defines "Copyright" as "the grant of an exclusive right to produce or sell a book, motion picture, work of art, musical composition, software, or similar product during a specified period of time."

It is important to note that copyright arises "automatically", and does not require any form of registration.

Beyond the reform of the copyright regime, there is a new trade mark regime in the works which will have the effect of creating a standalone trade mark system in the Cayman Islands, and one that is not dependent on extensions of UK or European Community trade marks into the Cayman Islands. A new design right system is also proposed, as well as the introduction of provisions to limit or prevent patent trolling. These reforms are expected to be in force by the final quarter of 2016.

WIPO has said that: "An efficient and equitable intellectual property system can help all countries to realize intellectual property's potential as a catalyst for economic development and social and cultural well-being. The intellectual property system helps strike a balance between the interests of innovators and the public interest, providing an environment in which creativity and invention can flourish, for the benefit of all."

The Cayman Islands Government and legal community are therefore striving forward with these reforms for this very purpose assisting local businesses, entrepreneurs and artists (be they musicians, designers, film makers or painters) to protect their IP, and to exploit their IP through licensing or trade.

The reforms will also encourage further investment into the Cayman Islands from abroad for similar reasons, enhancing the economy further.

Ogier is at the frontline of these reforms, having presented to, and advised the Cayman Islands Government on IP reform. Ogier has also represented the legal community on the Government's radio station talking in detail about IP reform as part of the Government's public education campaign on these reforms.

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.