Will Guernsey set a trend for others to follow – or will
this new IP right rise and fall in the Channel Islands?
With a mixed response from business,
the first image right has now been filed for registration in
Guernsey. The States of Guernsey brought new Image
Rights legislation into force on this day, 3rd December 2012 .
The Image Rights (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Ordinance, 2012 means that
for the first time anywhere in the world, individuals and their
agents can register and protect their
The Olympics earlier this year stimulated
much discussion about the value that sports personalities
build in their intangible assets during such games and how some
were preparing to protect that value.
The Image Rights (IR) Ordinance establishes a new form of
intellectual property, that focuses on two concepts
– the "registered personality" (the core right) and
"images" that are associated with or registered by that
Personality (described in the IR Ordinance as the
natural or legal persons;
a joint personality;
a group; or
a fictional character of a human or non human.
All sorts of personalities, such as David Beckham, One
Direction, Torvill and Dean, James Bond, Mickey
Mouse, Batman and the Joker qualify. The creator of the
fictional character is, generally, the prospective proprietor of
the fictional character's personality and its
associated image rights. Supposedly, a legal
person's personality can be registered, so it appears
that J K Rowling for instance could be a registered
personality, and then she would get protection for Harry
Potter characters - or these characters could be registered
personalities in their own right.
The IR Ordinance also caters for both dead people and
"extinct" legal persons. If the natural or legal person
was "in existence" within the period of 100 years prior
to the date of filing of the application for registration of the
personality, it will also qualify for registration of its
"Image rights" are defined as "exclusive rights
in the images associated with or registered against the registered
personality", which if registered may strengthen the case for
An Image refers to:
the name of a personnage or any other name by which a
personnage is known (e.g. David Beckham or "Becks");
expressions (verbal or facial);
any other distinctive characteristic or
personal attribute of a personnage;
and/ or photographs, illustrations, pictures, moving images,
electronic or other representations of a personnage and of no other
person, except to the extent that the other person is not
identified or singled out in or in connection with the use of such
The registration of a personality gives the registered
proprietor exclusive rights in the images associated with or
registered by the registered personality. The registration of a
personality lasts for a period of ten years from the date of
registration and may be renewed for further periods of ten years.
Where a specific image has been registered against the registered
personality, the registration of that image lasts for three years
and may be renewed for further periods of three years.
Applications to register image rights may be refused if they are
considered to be similarly confusing with other images
or where there is an earlier right in relation to the
personality or image applied for, eg trade mark rights,
copyright, design rights etc.
A "Protected Image" can be infringed. To be a
Protected Image at the time of infringement, the image has to
be "distinctive", have "actual or potential
value" and satisfy the registrability requirements of an image
(whether or not it is in fact registered). An image is
"distinctive" if it is recognised as being associated
with the registered personality by a wide or relevant sector of the
public in any part of the world, and various factors are provided
for determining whether an image is distinctive.
Application for registration may be made by the personnage if
they appear in person at the Registry, or by a Guernsey Image
Rights agent, for the personality alone or with a specific image or
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.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
As reported in the market updates section of this newsletter, the UAE Ministry of Economy recently reviewed the fees charged by its various departments, including the Trade Mark, Patent and Copyright Office.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).