Guernsey To Launch World-First Image Rights Register

By Editorial 23 October, 2012

Long-awaited Image Rights legislation has been drafted in Guernsey, and should be in force by December 3, 2012, subject to the approval of the island's legislative assembly.

The legislation will position 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, images associated with that person, including distinctive expressions, characteristics and attributes. The legislation will not only establish image rights as a new and separate branch of intellectual property (IP) law, it will also provide clearly defined safeguards for celebrities and sports personalities looking to further protect and capitalize on their image.

The ground-breaking law will create an image rights register enabling 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 channelled into a wealth management structure such as a trust, or for instance, a partnership structure to overcome complex asset ownership arrangements.

Channel Islands law firms Collas Crill and Carey Olsen contributed heavily towards the development of the legislation, which draws on both trademark and copyright principles.

Director of Collas Crill IP, David Evans, commented: "This is a very exciting moment in the development of personality rights and for IP generally. It represents a bold move by Guernsey and is the culmination of several years hard work by all concerned. It is a world first and is something which Guernsey should be very proud of - we are very much looking forward to the opening of the image rights register and to having formal protection for personality and image rights for the first time."

Advocate Elaine Gray of Carey Olsen added: “By introducing image rights legislation, Guernsey has continued to cement its place at the forefront of global intellectual property law. With the specialist fiduciary, administrative and legal services offered here the island will position itself as a world leader in this field.”

Carey Olsen said the law would enhance and complement the island's existing offerings in the field of intellectual property. The firm explained, for example, that: "A sports star, when publishing his autobiography, will be able to rely on the law of copyright to protect the written content of the book, register any distinctive use of his name by trade mark and register his image on the front cover of the book through the new image rights legislation, and to trade all of these rights via a company administered in Guernsey."

By establishing a legal structure to house one's image offshore, significant tax advantages can be unlocked. The new legislation will enhance the argument that income derived from image rights should be taxable in the jurisdiction in which they are registered. The development of Guernsey's legislation comes after years of uncertainty surrounding the tax treatment of endorsements and sponsporship deals received by sporting personalities, musicians and media personalities. Most recently, the UK tax authority, HMRC, has sought to receive a share of sports personalities' image rights income when they appear on UK soil, regardless of where their image rights are said to be structured.

Tags: Individuals | Expatriates | Wealth | Tax | Investment | Artists | Trademarks | Law | Intellectual Property | Entertainers | Copyright | Guernsey | United Kingdom | Tax Authority | Offshore | Sportsmen | Professionals | Legislation | Trade |


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