A new Trade Marks Bill was published in August 2016 in the Cayman Islands which will radically transform Cayman Islands trade mark law once it has been implemented.
The date on which the new law will come into effect is still to be announced; however, it is expected to enter into force in early 2017.
Under the current trade marks system in the Cayman Islands, trade mark protection is only available to trade marks registered in the UK by extension to the Cayman Islands. This includes national UK registrations, European Union Trade Marks (EUTMs) and UK designations of International Registrations.
One of the biggest changes under the Trade Marks Bill, 2016, is the creation of an independent national trade mark registration system, which does not involve the re-registration of trade marks protected in the UK. Once the new law is in force, the Cayman Islands Intellectual Property Office will accept national Cayman Islands applications only.
New applications will be examined on both absolute and relative grounds, and they will be published for opposition purposes. The new law also provides for non-use revocation proceedings post registration.
The current system is not being disregarded in its entirety, as annual maintenance fees will still be payable in order to maintain the validity of a registration.
The changes are likely to come as welcome news to businesses or individuals who do not own trade marks that are protected in the UK, as they will now be able to file separate national applications in the Cayman Islands.
However, owners of national UK registrations, EUTMs or UK designations of International registrations who are interested in obtaining protection in the Cayman Islands may do well to consider re-registering their trade marks in the Cayman Islands before the new law enters into force. This is due to the fact that the current system provides a relatively fast track to registration, without the need for substantive examination or an opposition period.
It is not yet known how existing registrations in the Cayman Islands obtained under the current system will be treated under the new law; however, it is thought that Regulations dealing with this issue will be passed in due course.