Fiona Le Poidevin, Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance, sets the scene for how the Island has led the world in the creation of its own image rights law and register.

Guernsey launched the world's first image rights legislation and image rights register in late 2012 and remains the only the jurisdiction to do so.

The law has opened up a new chapter in asset protection and exploitation management and has seen a steady stream of registrations with the Island's Intellectual Property Office. The most exciting application to date has arguably been that of Manchester City Manager Manuel Pellegrini. The 60-year-old Chilean who has previously managed Spanish giants Real Madrid registered his image rights through the Guernsey service provider Finsbury Image Rights at the end of October.

Other big names on the Island's image rights register include British tennis star Heather Watson, UK model Megan Williams, professional boxer Bradley Saunders and international DJs Tiesto and Afrojack. These individuals have identified that the Guernsey legislation provides greater clarity in the definition of rights and a higher degree of protection from unauthorised use by third parties than is currently on offer in any other jurisdiction.

Guernsey expertise

Many know of Guernsey as a holiday destination or because of our most famous football son, Matthew Le Tissier. However, during the last 50 years, Guernsey has established itself as a leading international finance centre (IFC) with a reputation for innovation. For example, the Island pioneered the cell company concept with the introduction of the Protected Cell Company (PCC) in 1997 and has its own regional stock exchange, the Channel Islands Stock Exchange (CISX).

We also have significant experience in servicing private clients by employing structures such as companies and trusts. In January 2013 the Island introduced the Guernsey Foundation, which provides practitioners with another tool for asset protection, succession planning and wealth planning through a third country for globally mobile individuals, such as footballers. Guernsey becoming the first jurisdiction globally to recognise image rights in law and provide them with a register is just the latest step in the ongoing evolution of our financial services industry.

Image right concept

Traditionally, the main way to protect the intellectual property in a personality has been through trade mark rights. While there are other related IP rights that come into play, such as copyright and design rights, trade marks are the most relevant. However, they only go so far in protecting the rights of the modern celebrity and sports star, whose interests are more wide ranging than ever before. Guernsey's image rights legislation addresses the needs of the modern marketplace by allowing a personality to formally register not only images but also other characteristics of themselves.

The rationale is that individuals should have control over their image and how it is used, but they should also have the capacity to earn a livelihood from that image. Guernsey offers an environment with the financial infrastructure and expertise necessary where this can become a reality.

Many footballers already use our private client services and we see no reason why others won't follow Pellegrini's example and utilise our world first image rights legislation, which in turn can provide the catalyst for an increased demand for the Island's wider wealth management services.

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Originally published in FC Business, November 2013.

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