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Registering Image Rights

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To register their personality and associated images the personnage may apply in person at the Guernsey Registry Intellectual Property Office. They cannot apply on-line so it is more likely though that they will use the services of a Guernsey based image rights agent such as Harbour Intellectual Property Ltd which has officially registered staff to do so on the personnage’s behalf.

We are responsible for collecting the personnage’s details, including what personalities and associated images they wish to register before formally applying for registration.  There is a 20-working day period during which the proposed personality and images are published on-line by the registry for opposition applications before registration is complete.

Simultaneously or subsequent to registering a personality an application to register one or more related images can be made by us.  Images can include:

  • The name of the personnage, or any other name by which the personnage is known.

  • The voice, signature, likeness, appearance, silhouette, features, face, verbal or facial expressions, gestures, mannerisms and any other distinctive or personal attributes.

  • Any photograph, illustration, image, picture, moving image or electronic or other representation.

The registration of a personality lasts 10 years and the registration of an image 3 years, but both are renewable indefinitely.  All registered images are publicly available on-line.

Fees and Costs of Registration

Image Rights1 Harbour Intellectual Property Limited Fees  GBP Guernsey RegistryCosts   GBP
Registration of Individual Personality (lasts 10 yrs) 1,500 1,000
Registration of Joint Personality (lasts 10 yrs) 2,500 1,500
Registration of Group Personality (lasts 10 yrs) 2,500 2,000
Registration of Fictional Character (lasts 10 yrs) 1,500 1,000
Registration of Legal Personality (lasts 10 yrs) 2,500 2,000
Registration of Image (lasts 3 yrs) 125 100
Registration  of Series of Images (lasts 3 yrs) 125 200
Registration  of Complex Image (lasts 3 yrs) 125 200
Other  Services Please contact us Various

 

Grounds for Refusal

 A personality or image application will be refused for registration if it:

  • is made in bad faith.

  • is contrary to public policy.

  • does not satisfy the legal definition of a personality or image.

  • includes a protected emblem such as a national flag or image of the Queen.

  • is too generic.

  • is prohibited by law.

  • is deceptive.

Who might use the Register?

It is worth noting that there is nothing in the Ordinance that requires a personnage to be famous at the time of registration, but in any infringement actions (see below) the registered personality will have to be recognised by a wide or relevant section of the public for an infringement action to succeed.

Anyone who has an image that might be misused should consider registering that image in order to maintain control of its use.  The Ordinance recognises personality and image rights as property rights and so they can be licensed, assigned and generally treated as valuable assets.  They are capable of being part-owned by two or more owners and transferred to third parties.  Assignments and licenses are registrable and exclusive licensees have a right to bring proceedings for infringement.

The Ordinance contemplates that there exists a distinction between the proprietor (i.e., the owner of the rights to the image) and the registered personality such that both can use a registered image, but the personality can only use it without getting a commercial benefit, or with the consent of the proprietor.  It is possible that the proprietor may also be the personality.

 There are also opportunities for manufacturers to register their products as images, in a similar way to registering a design right, except that the image right enures indefinitely.

Benefits of Registration

The value of one’s celebrity status will usually increase in line with public profile and may take years to become well-established as a global brand.  However, once it is established and perhaps the celebrity retires, there can remain tremendous commercial opportunities by way of product endorsement through the use of the celebrity’s image well into their old age and beyond.

As a registered image survives the death of the personnage there are advantages in registration to protect the image right as part of a succession plan.  The certainty provided by registration allows, if required, various aspects of a celebrity’s persona to be registered as separate images and owned by various proprietors, perhaps as part of different endorsement arrangements or as part of inheritance planning.  There could also be advantages in having the image rights held by a discretionary trust for the benefit of the personnage’s heirs.

In many circumstances the personality may chose to assign their image to a company, trust, protected cell company, incorporated cell company or foundation in a tax neutral jurisdiction such as Guernsey to best utilise any appropriate tax planning opportunities.  The Harbour Group works with its clients’ lawyers and accountants to provide the most suitable ownership solutions using all available global structuring possibilities.

Guernsey has something of a hybrid legal system, with influences from civil law Norman France and common law England and has also recently introduced foundations law to complement trust law and to provide a wider range of asset holding vehicles which will appeal to clients from both civil and common law countries.

Guernsey is a tax neutral jurisdiction and can be used to structure the receipt of image rights income in the most tax efficient manner and which may well include cross-border licensing arrangements with the ownership of different rights remaining in different tax jurisdictions.

 For a non-UK domiciled sportsman or artist moving to the United Kingdom there are potential advantages in having any pre-existing image rights held in a Guernsey excluded property trust to ensure that the income they generate remains tax free under the United Kingdom’s non-domicile remittance rules.

For more information on registering image rights, please contact our Team.

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