Copyright / Patents in Jersey
What is copyright?
Copyright protects the work you have made so that other people cannot generally copy, publish, play, show or broadcast or put it on the internet until you have given your consent. There are some exceptions to copyright that allow people to use your work in limited ways without your consent.
You get copyright without registration being necessary – but doing certain things as indicated below may be helpful.
Copyright is an ‘intellectual property right’. It can be bought and sold like other property.
What works are covered by copyright?
Copyright does not protect ideas as such. Copyright protects the particular expression of an idea. The following types of work can have copyright:-
- original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works (the works do not need to be aesthetically or culturally pleasing; even computer programs are a type of literary work)
- sound recordings, films and broadcasts
There is also copyright in the way a publication is laid out, even when any literary work that has been used in the publication is no longer in copyright, but this copyright only gives protection for copying and use of that particular layout without consent.
How to get copyright
Copyright applies in Jersey and much of the world as soon as a work is created and is recorded in some way, for example, on paper or as a digital file. It is not possible to make a formal registration in Jersey (or the UK). There is no national register.
Registration is possible in some countries, such as the United States, where it could be particularly helpful if it is ever necessary to enforce rights there. It is common practice to mark the work and any copies of it with © followed by the name of the creator of the work and the date it was made.
It may be useful for the creator to have evidence of when a work was first created by doing one of the following:-
- Give the original to a bank or lawyer to keep and get a dated receipt.
- Post a copy of the work to themselves by registered post and leave it unopened
These things do not prove that the work was created by the person that has these records, but evidence of the existence of the work in that person’s possession at a particular time might be helpful if there were a dispute over who made it.
There are other matters about copyright that you may need to find out about.
Such as who owns the copyright
- Moral rights
- Different copyrights in the same work
- Work created or made during employment
- How long does copyright last
- What are a copyright owner’s rights
- Where a work can be used without the copyright owner’s permission
- Stopping someone from using your work
- Copyright in the rest of the world
- Live acts in public
- Recorded works played or shown in public
- Recording at home
- Videos and recordings of weddings and other private parties
- Photographs and films
Copyright law in Jersey is very similar to that in the United Kingdom and so the information made available by the UK Intellectual Property Office (at www.gov.uk/copyright) may be helpful. Even though you can get copyright without any registration in much of the world, the details of copyright laws do vary between countries. You should look very carefully at the laws in all the countries that are important to you and/or get advice from people who know about the laws.
A country may be important to you if what you want to sell what you have created there or you would be concerned if what you have created might be used there without your consent.
What are registered IP rights?
Registered IP rights only exist when an application to the relevant national authority has been made and granted. The length of time for which a registered right can exist varies depending on the type of IP. The IP rights need to be applied for in every country where having rights is important.
In some cases, it is possible to get rights in a region after a single application has been made and granted, such as an EU trademark that applies throughout the EU. In Jersey, there is a secondary registration system under which patents, trademarks and registered designs which have been granted or registered in the UK can be registered in Jersey. EU trademarks apply in Jersey without the need for registration though.
Applying for IP rights
If you want to go ahead with filing an application for a patent, trademark or registered design, a Patent/Trade Mark specialist/lawyer can give you advice and help. They will also be able to help you find a UK based firm to make an application for you.
Lysaght & Co
PO Box 49
18 Grenville Street
Jersey, JE4 5NB
Spoor & Fisher
P O Box 281
11 Castle Street
Jersey, JE4 9TW
Tel: +44 1534 838000
Registration in Jersey
Patents, trademarks and designs registered in the UK can be registered in Jersey by applying to the Intellectual Property Register at:
Royal Court House
Monday to Thursday – 9am – 5.30pm
Friday – 9am – 5pm
What is patentable?
What is patentable in Jersey is exactly the same as in the UK and so the definitions in the Patents Act 1977 are relevant:-
- An invention has to be new. So, subject to some exceptions such as – where it has been displayed at an international exhibition up to 6 months before the application
- it claims priority from an application made elsewhere up to a year before the application
- it must never have been made public in any way anywhere in the world before you file a patent application
- It must have something that is different, and not obvious i.e. an inventive step
- It must be capable of being made or being used in any kind of industry, including agriculture. It can be in the form of a device, a new material or product or an industrial process. Ideas that are only in your head are not patentable; there must be descriptions and, where relevant, drawings of your invention
- It must not be for something that is ‘excluded’. For example, discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods are not allowed
Writing, dramatic and artistic works etc should be subject to copyright, not patents.
Special parts, such as a special board for a game may be patentable in association with the rules of the game. The look of an article or its shape that is not delivering a technical function cannot be patented but might be suitable for what is called Design Registration.
If you want to make an application for a patent
You need to know that applying for a patent will mean that you have to pay the official fees. For example you will need to pay fees of about £250 for the UK application through to grant and £125 for the Jersey application for registration. You will probably find it helpful to make your application using a professional patent specialist/ lawyer but you will need to add the costs of their services.
You need to think carefully about how and where you might make money from your invention before deciding whether or not to make an application and where you should make an application. You might want to obtain patents in countries where you want to sell products using your invention and where you would be concerned if your invention might be used without your consent.
Once you have patented your invention it is up to you to keep a watch for anyone using it without your permission and to then take legal action to stop them. That is a civil matter.
If you have an invention for something which you cannot afford to make yourself, you could try to sell or license the invention to a manufacturer. However, you need to protect yourself either
- by getting patents in all the relevant countries before doing this or
- making sure that your discussions are subject to a non-disclosure agreement that keeps your invention secret when talking to others
Trademarks can be used to protect your brand for either products or services. A trademark must be unique and can be words, sounds, logos, colours or any combination of these. Some things are excluded though, such as a trademark that is misleading about a product or service, or purely descriptive of the product or service.
If you have registered your trademark you are able to take action against anyone who uses it without your consent in the countries where it has been registered. Wilful or deliberate use of a trademark without permission may also be a criminal offence and trading standards officers may take enforcement action.
You may also have some protection for a trademark that has not been registered and where its use by others is unfair competition, but taking action in this situation is likely to be more difficult than where you have registered your trademark.
A design is about the look of a product. It can include its appearance, physical shape, configuration i.e. how the different parts of the design are arranged together and decoration. In order to register it, your design must be:
- not be offensive
- not make use of protected emblems or flags
- not be about how a product works
You cannot, therefore, protect the function of your product by a registered design, but you might be able to get a patent for that.
If you register your design, then you are able to take action against anyone who uses it without your consent in the countries where it is registered. You may also have rights in a design that has not been registered.
The surface decoration on something like curtain material or wallpaper may attract copyright protection. A 3-dimensional design may attract ‘design right’ in Jersey and the UK.
Design right is a bit like copyright in that there is no registration needed in order to get the IP right. But design right is a special type of IP right that does not apply in many countries. Some countries may, though, provide you with similar rights under their copyright laws.