The British Virgin Islands has introduced a new intellectual property regime by enacting the Trade Marks Act 2013 and the Trade Marks Rules 2015 which came into force on 1 September 2015. This has replaced the local and UK trade mark rules which have been in force in the BVI for over a century.
Previously there were two ways in which to make an application, firstly any mark that was already registered in the UK whether goods or services could apply and receive a fast track low fees processing, secondly an application could be made locally without first being registered, but this only applied to goods and not services and was classified under an antiquated British classification system. Under this old regime any person could register a trademark from both within and outside the BVI, this has changed and any person wishing to register a trademark must first be approved as a Trade Marks Agent by the Financial Supervision Commission. The new acts now make it possible to register goods and services without prior registration locally in the BVI according to the international classification system.
The new legislation has also clarified a number of issues including;
- Entitlement of registration of a trademark including classification
- Grounds for refusal
- Legal proceedings
- Infringement proceedings
- The licensed use of a trademark
- Registration of service marks
This modernisation of the jurisdiction means that it is now in line with best practice standards and current developments enabling it to be a serious competitor in the field of intellectual property law internationally.