As part of a years-long push to modernize intellectual property rights protections in the Cayman Islands, government published two new laws this week. One creates a new class of intellectual property for “design rights” and the other has amendments to try to keep frivolous patent claims out of Cayman’s courts.
The new changes join the modernized copyright protections that came into force earlier this year.
A new law on trademarks protection is expected to come into effect at the beginning of next year, creating a new trademark registry for the jurisdiction instead of having trademarks extended from the United Kingdom registry.
Commerce Minister Wayne Panton, in an earlier interview, said the laws are “part of the plan to modernize intellectual property laws in Cayman.”
Design rights will give companies an entirely new class of intellectual property protections. The minister said design rights are a “significant growing trend in the U.K.”
Design rights protect the physical design of a product, such as the unique look of an iPad or another product with a “new and novel look.”
To register design rights in Cayman, a company first has to register and certify the design in the United Kingdom or the European Union. The design rights can then be extended to the Cayman Islands, much the way trademark works now.
The new trademark rules, once in effect, will “cut out the middleman,” according to HSM intellectual property attorney Sophie Davies. Instead of having to register trademarks first in the U.K. and then extend those protections to Cayman, new trademarks will be able to register directly here.
The new patent amendments, published in the government gazette this week, remove the provisions that have to do with trademarks to make way for the new stand-alone Trademarks Law.
The biggest change to the Patents Law makes it illegal to sue someone “in bad faith” over a patent violation.
This is an effort to prevent “patent trolls,” people or companies that hold overly broad patents to cover, for example, podcasts, and make money by suing people for supposedly violating those patents.