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
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.
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