BVI in focus: legislation and regulation


BVI in focus: legislation and regulation

Strahil Dimitrov /

On each day of the INTA annual conference in Orlando we are asking Jamal Smith, president of the British Virgin Islands Trademark Association, some questions about IP on the islands. Today he tells us about new legislation and financial regulation.

Why should a company register a trademark in the BVI?

The new Trade Marks Act came into force in September 2015 and we have already seen inquiries about non-traditional marks, geographical indications and certification marks, which were not possible before. This demonstrates that there is a huge potential for growth as many see the British Virgin Islands (BVI) as an important market for international trade. With the Asian market being seen as key business partners with the British Virgin Islands, things like the use of Chinese characters in trademarks and the reliance on the transliteration of Chinese trademarks into English has all become possible and there are tremendous avenues for growth in this market.

What advantages are there to company registration in the BVI in relation to intellectual property?

As the BVI continues to be a well regulated member of the global financial market, adapting to international regulatory standards created by such bodies as the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the Financial Action Task Force, the intellectual property regime will continue to facilitate international trade and protect rights holders from unfair trade practices. Therefore, it is unlikely that any potential action by US and European governments in relation to the BVI's robust financial services regime will have much impact, if any, on trademarks in the BVI.

What we have seen from the publication of the Panama Papers in particular is that many trademark owners are concerned about the potential for companies registered in the BVI using a similar name as their major brands. There are mechanisms in place in the BVI to allow for the change of name of BVI companies through administrative means, and also where there is an infringement of a trademark, injunctive relief, as well as other forms of relief, can be obtained in the BVI to prevent the use, or misuse, of major brands in company names.

So, as the BVI continues to play its role in the global financial market as the world's corporate domicile of choice, it also ensures that there are gateways to the protection of rights from abuse by unscrupulous people seeking to use the jurisdiction to the detriment of rights holders everywhere, including those people who may not have a trademark registration in the BVI but can prove that their mark is a well-known mark in the BVI.

British Virgin Islands, BVI, trademarks, Jamal Smith