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Early Interest Shown In Guernsey Image Rights Register

by Jason Gorringe,, London

14 December 2012

Guernsey’s world-first image rights register is attracting significant interest from the UK and beyond, reports Guernsey Finance, the promotional agency for the island's financial services industry.

The Guernsey parliament, the States of Guernsey, approved The Image Rights (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Ordinance, 2012, on November 28, 2012, and the Guernsey Registry’s Intellectual Property Office opened for image rights registrations on December 3.

The legislation positions Guernsey as the first jurisdiction to have a legislative framework to register an image, enabling effective management and control of the commercial use of a person's identity, and images associated with that person including distinctive characteristics such as signature, voice, mannerisms and gestures.

The legislation not only establishes image rights as a new and separate branch of intellectual property law, it will also provide clearly defined safeguards for celebrities and sports personalities looking to further protect and capitalize on their image.

The register enables the legal recognition of a "registered personality" (i.e. the exclusive rights to the images associated with or registered against the personality). Once registered, the image right, as an identifiable asset, can be placed within a Guernsey structure, adding flexibility to allow image rights income to be channeled into a wealth management structure such as a trust, or a partnership structure to overcome complex asset ownership arrangements.

A team from Carey Olsen, acting on behalf of corporate and branding specialist Lesley Everett of Walking TALL International Ltd., made the first ever successful application for the registration of a personality and associated image rights on the morning of December 3, 2012.

Fiona Le Poidevin, Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance, said:

"Guernsey has been bold and innovative in introducing legislation and the associated infrastructure which means that the island is the first jurisdiction in the world where personalities and their associated image rights can be registered under the protection of statutory law."

"Indeed, we believe that our new offering will be attractive to global brands and in particular sports and entertainment stars where their image is a particularly important asset both to be protected and exploited for commercial gain. The hope is that they will use Guernsey for its unique image rights capability as well as the island’s broader wealth management offering to service their wider financial needs."

"There has been considerable interest in the progression of these developments and it is particularly pleasing to see that this has now translated into what is the first ever registration of a personality and associated image rights. Demand is also evidenced by the number of on-island practitioners registering as image right agents and I am hearing from many of them that there are serious enquiries in the pipeline which will hopefully lead to further registrations."

According to Le Poidevin, more than 100 local advocates, financial service providers and intellectual property specialists have attended Intellectual Property Office training courses on the new legislation and associated infrastructure. The course also forms one part of the requirements for qualification as a registered image rights agent in Guernsey.

John Ogier, Guernsey Registrar of Intellectual Property and architect of the image rights legislation, said:

“The interest in the UK and internationally covers the wide fields of sports rights, the entertainment industries of music, arts and media, business leaders and the managers of the estates of deceased persons for succession planning and charitable works."

“The legislation has been carefully drafted to balance the commercial interests for a strong right with the interests of protecting public expression and freedom of news reporting. There are therefore specific provisions ensuring the continued right to news reporting together with public expressions of parody, satire and use of images in research, education, public administration and law enforcement. In addition, the legislation specifically makes the applications and the register available for viewing on the Internet. This transparency, as well as publicizing the protection of image rights will support the island’s reputational interests."

"As for any new product, registrations may take time to build, but even if other jurisdictions follow our lead, Guernsey will have firmly established a reputable market presence from which the island can then benefit by way of mutual protection agreements."

TAGS: Wealth | business | artists | trademarks | law | intellectual property | financial services | entrepreneurs | international financial centres (IFC) | Guernsey | offshore | sportsmen | legislation | trade | services

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