Trademark filings on the rise since new law

One year ago, government held a ceremonial conference to commemorate the Department of Tourism and Cayman Airways filing to protect the Sir Turtle logo, becoming the first entities to brand under the new Trade Marks Law.

Since then, 620 other applications have been filed at the Cayman Islands Intellectual Property Office, nearly double the roughly 300 trademarks filed per year before that.

HSM, which has a practice devoted to intellectual property, stated that the new legislation has made the task easier for businesses and brand owners.

“This law has made it easier for businesses and brand owners to register their trademarks which may comprise of symbols, slogans, logos and other elements directly in the Cayman Islands,” the law firm stated. “Previously, all applications had to go through the United Kingdom or European Union before they could be extended to the Cayman Islands.”

The Trade Marks Law was just one part of government’s effort to overhaul the territory’s intellectual property regime.

In 2016, government updated Cayman’s Copyright Law to widen the scope of creative media that are locally protected. Government also made minor adjustments to the Patents Law to allow for software and other technological developments.

In addition, the new Design Rights Registration Law allows businesses to have intellectual property rights in the physical appearance of their items.

“Prior to 2017, persons were not able to protect the unique physical appearance of an item, or part of it, at all in Cayman,” said Candace Westby, the head of intellectual property for the Cayman Islands Intellectual Property Office. “Then last August, the new design rights law passed to allow for protection by way of extension.”

The founders of the recently launched TechCayman – a business platform that aims to attract software developers and other entrepreneurs to the territory – said the updates were necessary to develop a tech sector here.

“I was working with Dr. Shetty on some healthcare software projects, and I wanted to open up a digital healthcare software company in Cayman [five years ago]. But the foundation of the tech industry is associated with [intellectual property] laws,” TechCayman co-founder Samir Mitra said. “If I were to write code in Cayman in 2013, I was exposed, [in] that it could be copied legally because there was no copyright law. So I couldn’t form my company.”

Now, Cayman has world-class intellectual property legislation that will allow software entrepreneurs to flourish, Mr. Mitra said earlier this month. He explained that not only will the updated laws protect the work of creators; they will also prevent local companies from being sued by “patent trolls” – non-operating entities that obtain patents just so they can sue other companies.

Going forward, government said it will continue to attract IP business by continuing to strengthen its legal framework.

“We’re currently drafting design rights legislation that would allow for direct registration in the future and eliminate the need for the extension system,” Ms. Westby said.

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