Legislators voted on Wednesday to pass the Design Rights Bill 2019, which allows people to more easily have their designs protected as intellectual property in Cayman.

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’.

Before 2017, there were no legal protections for design rights in Cayman. On Aug. 1, 2017, the Design Rights Registration Law took effect, allowing businesses to register their design rights here if they also were registered in the United Kingdom. Those design rights would then be extended to the Cayman Islands, much the way trademark works now.

However, only nine designs have been registered here since that law took effect.

Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers said on Wednesday that so few people registered their design rights here because of the onerous process of having to register in the UK first.

“The present system requires persons to first apply for and obtain UK design rights, which is costly,” she said.

Moreover, businesses who had their design rights protected in the UK did not register here because their design rights were already protected in Cayman by extension, Rivers said.

“So major brand owners don’t need to register in Cayman if they’re already registered in UK, because brand owners are aware that a third party can’t register in Cayman because they’d need a UK registration too,” she said.

By allowing people to directly register their design rights here, the new law will offer huge benefits to local artists, Rivers said.

The new law will also bring Cayman’s design-rights registration regime on par with those in jurisdictions such as Jamaica, Bermuda, and Belize, Rivers said.

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