Guernsey has reformed its Intellectual Property laws and produced a set of legislation that establishes the Island as a leading offshore jurisdiction for the development and exploitation of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). The first of the new Intellectual Property laws came into force on 1 January 2006. Later, on 1 June a new Intellectual Property Office was opened, providing for primary trade mark registration in Guernsey for the first time. Since its opening the Guernsey IP office has experienced a 100% increase in registrations and related transactions.
Guernsey's legislation has been introduced after a comprehensive review of other jurisdictions, including the UK, EU, Americas, Asia and Australasia. In some cases it has been modelled on comparable UK and EU provisions, but some rights have been specifically designed to overcome shortcomings in those regimes. Other rights have been drafted to offer enhanced commercial opportunities. Put simply, Guernsey has sought to develop the best of all worlds.
New legislation that has been passed into law includes trade marks, copyright, registered and unregistered design rights, database rights, performers' rights, semi-conductor topographies and plant breeders' rights. Legislation in respect of patents and innovation warranties, geographical indicators and image rights will follow in the future. Copies of all the legislation can be accessed via links from the Guernsey Intellectual Property Office website at www.gov.gg/ipo.
The Island's enabling IP legislation empowers the States of Guernsey (Guernsey's parliament) to legislate for specific IPRs by individual ordinances. The advantage of this umbrella approach to the legislation is that in the future the legislation can be amended to respond to technological advances or market changes in a timely manner.
All legislation has been drafted to meet at least the minimum requirements set by the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO). Guernsey hopes to be confirmed as fully TRIPS (Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) compliant in the near future.
The advantages of Guernsey for IPR
Guernsey is a highly-attractive environment for the development and exploitation of a variety of IPRs. In addition to specific IPR legislation, the Island has a sophisticated financial services infrastructure. The Island's zero-ten taxation strategy makes the Island even more attractive as a base from which to manage intellectual property in a tax neutral environment.
The professional infrastructure on the Island is second to none and includes a wealth of legal expertise, all the big four' accountancy firms as well as many others and a strong pool of non-executive talent.
Guernsey's established trust industry and corporate innovations such as the Protected Cell Company (PCC) and Incorporated Cell Company (ICC) provide a variety of options for holding and developing IPRs offshore. The introduction, in the near future, of Purpose Trusts and later, Foundations will also expand the range of options available. In some cases the most useful structures may result from a combination of vehicles.
Guernsey offers a stable economic and political environment, an experienced finance sector and a well-established framework for developing and managing assets offshore. The Island has a strong reputation for its robust yet pragmatic regulatory environment, which continues to enable and encourage the financial services industry to innovate and expand. Guernsey's recent development of its Intellectual Property environment adds to its strong reputation as a centre of excellence for managing high value assets.
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit www.guernseyfinance.com
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