The Cayman Islands published a draft set of laws at the end of August in its push to modernize and update its intellectual property laws. Earlier in the summer, the government strengthened and expanded the reach of its copyright laws. Now, the Trade Marks Bill, 2016 is poised to tackle another important piece of Caymanian intellectual property rights.
While the law is not yet final, the effective date of the legislation is expected to be sometime in early 2017. Once enacted, the Trade Marks Bill, 2016 will transform the way trademark owners register and protect their marks in the Cayman Islands.
Most significantly, the new law will create a local trademark registry. Currently, trademark owners must extend an existing UK registration to obtain protections in the Cayman Islands. Once the law is enacted however, owners will be able to register trademarks directly in the Cayman Islands.
The new law also provides for absolute and relative grounds for refusal of registration, and provisions for opposition and revocation. It also includes fines and possible imprisonment for trademark infringement. Terms for registration and renewal are both ten years, and the trademark owner must operate through an agent in the Cayman Islands.
What's the Bottom Line?
Currently, there are no regulations explaining the effect of the law on existing registrations and UK mark extensions. However, owners of UK registrations with plans to register marks in the Cayman Islands should do so soon to avoid any potential delays or issues with the new law’s grounds for refusal or opposition.