Tom Amy of Ogier Private Wealth says Guernsey's image rights legislation has continued the Island's tradition for innovation.
Mention 'Guernsey' and 'sport' to anyone and they will most likely refer to Matt Le Tisier, the prodigiously talented, much-loved character who faithfully served Southampton Football Club for many years. More recently, Guernsey-born Heather Watson has received significant media attention surrounding her advance into the top 50 of the World Tennis Rankings and status as British Number One. Other sporting connections to this British Crown dependency include Andy Priaulx (world champion, touring cars), Lee Merrien (marathon runner and Team GB Olympian) and, until recently, Jenson Button was a resident of Guernsey.
Guernsey is also well known for its financial services industry. Over the past five decades Guernsey has developed to become politically, economically and financially stable with robust, modern legislation and regulation, a well-developed court system and high-quality service providers. It currently has £274 billion of assets under management. Having its own legal system means Guernsey can be innovative in terms of establishing new legislation to cater for the fast changing modern world. One example of this is the Guernsey Image Rights Legislation that was introduced in January 2013. With the UK only offering piecemeal protection for image rights, Guernsey's protection for registered image rights provides a statutory registerable personality and image rights regime designed to prevent unauthorized commercial exploitation.
With modern technology and instant global media channels the value of a celebrity's image in recent times has rocketed and is now a substantial source of income for sporting stars, entertainers and celebrities. Intellectual property rights legislation relating specifically to image however is less developed - until now.
Ground-breaking Image Rights Legislation
Guernsey has introduced legislation, the first of its kind in the world, designed to protect personalities and images. Currently, copyright, trademark and patent legislation exists in many countries around the world (including in Guernsey), but there was no such legislation specifically providing for registration and protection of image rights.
Whilst almost any personality or image can be registered, it is envisaged that the protection afforded by the Ordinance will be of particular interest to those in the public eye such as media and sports personalities.
How Does It Work?
What can be registered
- Personality - the public perception of a person which includes a natural person, a body corporate, two or more persons intrinsically linked in the eyes of the public, a group or a fictional character.
- Images - which can include the name, voice, signature, appearances, expressions, mannerisms, photo, or any illustration or representation of a person.
Type of protection provided
A registered personality and their image rights are the personal property of the proprietor. Image rights may be licensed to others and may also be assigned. Other rights and remedies are provided by the Ordinance. Registration provides evidence that a right exists and protection commences on the date the application is made.
How to register
Registration is made by way of application which must be accompanied by the information, documentation and fees, as prescribed by the Registrar of Personalities and Image Rights. There are certain circumstances in which an application will be refused, including where the images are of an indecent nature, deceive the public or are made in bad faith. Personalities are registered for an initial period of 10 years and may be renewed for a further 10 years (without limit on how many renewals can be made). Images are registered for an initial period of 3 years and may be renewed for a further 3 years (without limit on how many renewals can be made). An initial registration fee is charged as well as an annual fee. These are set out on the Registry of Personalities and Image Rights website. For example, the initial registration of a personality and one image, of a natural person, currently costs £1,000.
Registration provides a clear identification of the personality and image in respect of which protection is sought. It also clearly identifies the date on which the right was first claimed. In either case, this may assist in enforcement of such rights in other jurisdictions. Another key attraction of this new legislation is that it provides the opportunity to incorporate image rights into succession planning activity. Through registration, the rights can be treated as an asset in a similar manner to other intellectual property assets. Tax residency considerations will impact how best to use the Guernsey image rights legislation in structuring financial transactions involving the right and/or succession planning decisions.
A number of locally based fiduciary companies offer management services in respect of registered rights and considerable skill and experience already exists in Guernsey in respect of other rights and assets. There is also no income tax on royalties, save in respect of persons who live in Guernsey, and there is in any event no inheritance or capital gains tax on the transfer of such rights. In today's marketplace where image exploitation and product endorsement can be extremely lucrative, the Ordinance is a welcome development in intellectual property legislation and is likely to lead to the development of this area of law worldwide.
The Ogier Solution
Ogier Private Wealth is an independent specialist team of lawyers and administrators based in financial centres across the globe catering specifically for the needs of high net worth individuals, wealthy families, family offices and owner managed businesses. It is also a leading provider of services to corporate clients wishing to remunerate, retain and encourage their valued senior management teams.
Wealth structures can be established for many reasons, be it succession, asset protection, tax efficiency, family governance or confidentiality, and our team of lawyers and skilled administrators work together across all the major offshore jurisdictions to deliver a discreet and professional service which robustly meets the objectives of the full range of wealth management structures.
Fiduciary Services include:
- Trust and Foundation Administration
- Family Office
- Business Succession
- Real Estate
- Employee Benefits
Trust and Foundation Administration
Ogier Private Wealth provides an independent, bespoke and discreet administration service principally to trusts and foundations for individuals and families, although many structures we administer also contain companies and partnerships.
Ogier has built up longstanding relationships with international families and deals first hand with issues relating to family governance and succession. We also have a wealth of experience in relation to the full spectrum of assets in structures we administer.
In the transmission of a business from one generation to the next, or on the sale of an owner-managed business, pressures are placed on families as they are confronted with a myriad of challenges. The aim of our business succession team is to share our experience and to put in place the right framework for succession.
For Ultra High Net Worth individuals and families, real estate is very often a key asset class both for personal and investment purposes. Ogier Private Wealth is able to call on the resources of a dedicated Real Estate Team to administer structures which are designed to hold either residential or commercial property. We have extensive experience of administering structures holding high end residential property and have the contacts and skills to provide payroll and concierge services.
For individuals and families looking to create platforms for charitable or philanthropic giving, we are able to utilise our network of offices and multi-jurisdictional expertise to choose the right vehicle and administer it in the right time zone.
Our Employee Benefits Team is uniquely placed to deliver full service, pragmatic solutions in this rapidly developing arena. Employers and participants benefit from bespoke online access to award and benefit information, plan documentation and financial data. A flexible reporting function keeps participants and employers informed with detailed reports and statements on demand.
Originally published in FC Business, January 2013
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit www.guernseyfinance.com.
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