Intellectual property law in the Isle of Man is underpinned, as it is in the United Kingdom and across the developed world, by international treaties, some of which have their roots in agreements first made in the 19th century.
The treaties underpinning the intellectual property regime on the Isle of Man are as follows:
Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property
The Paris Convention was originally signed in 1883 and has been amended several times since. The Stockholm Revision (1967) of the Convention was extended to the Isle of Man from 29 October 1983. It applies to patents, marks, industrial designs, utility models and trade names. The main requirements of the Convention are that:
- a contracting State must grant the same protection to nationals of the other contracting States as it grants to its own nationals
- if an application is filed in one contracting State, the application has priority from the same time in any other contracting State provided he files an application within 12 months in the latter State
Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
The Berne Convention was first agreed in 1886, and imposes minimum standards of protection to be extended by each contracting country to the nationals of all other contracting countries. It also stipulates that copyright must not depend on registration. Recent amendments confer "moral rights" on the author of a work, for example, the right to be identified as author.
The Paris Revision (1971) of the Convention was extended to the Isle of Man in 1996.
Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations
The Rome Convention (1961) protects the rights of performers (actors, singers and musicians) in the broadcast and communication of their work to the public without their consent; the rights of music producers to authorise the reproduction of their music; and the rights of broadcasters to authorise the re-broadcasting and reproduction of their broadcasts.
The Convention was extended to the Isle of Man in 1999.
The TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement was made as part of the discussions that led to the creation of the World Trade Organisation on 1st January 1995, and extended and raised the standard of the rights provided for by the Paris and Berne Conventions. The areas covered by TRIPS include: copyright and related rights; trade marks; patents; industrial designs; and geographical indications.
In addition there are a number of other treaties and agreements that provide for one international registration being made by applicants, and classification systems for the different categories of intellectual property.
The TRIPS Agreement extends to the Isle of Man through the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization and took effect from 1997.
Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT)
The Patent Co-operation Treaty (1970) allows patent protection to be sought simultaneously in countries which are also signed up to the Treaty. The Treaty was extended to the Isle of Man in 1983.
European Patent Convention (EPC)
The European Patent Convention (1973) has applied to the Isle of Man since the UK ratified the treaty in 1977. The Act of 29 November 2000 revising the EPC was applied to the Isle of Man on 12 May 2005. The EPC also facilitates the process of obtaining patents in different countries but goes further than the PCT by providing a single route to the grant of a European patent. Once granted, the European patent operates as a bundle of national patent rights in each of the countries designated by the applicant, each governed by the domestic laws of each of the designated countries. The EPC has also effected a significant harmonisation of national substantive patent laws throughout Europe. Although the EPC covers the EU and certain other European countries, it is a separate international convention rather than an EU measure.
The Madrid Protocol (1989) concerns trade marks and is similar to the Patent Co‑operation Treaty in that it allows a single trade mark application to be made to many countries internationally at the same time. The Protocol was extended to the Isle of Man in 1995.
Trademark Law Treaty
The Trademark Law Treaty (1994) was extended to the Isle of Man on 1 August 1996. It aims to standardize and streamline national and regional trademark registration procedures. This is achieved through the simplification and harmonization of certain features of those procedures, thus making trademark applications and the administration of trademark registrations in multiple jurisdictions less complex and more predictable.
Patent Law Treaty
The Patent Law Treaty (2006) was extended to the Isle of Man on 22 August 1996. It aims to harmonize and streamline formal procedures in respect of national and regional patent applications and patents and, thus, to make such procedures more user friendly.
Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs
The Hague Agreement (1925) was extended to the Isle of Man on 13 June 2018. It allows applicants to register an industrial design by filing a single application with the International Bureau of WIPO, enabling design owners to protect their designs with minimum formalities in multiple countries or regions. The Hague Agreement also simplifies the management of an industrial design registration, since it is possible to record subsequent changes and to renew the international registration through a single procedural step.
Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled
The Marrakesh Treaty (2013) was extended to the Isle of Man on 1 October 2020. It requires Contracting Parties to introduce a standard set of limitations and exceptions to copyright rules in order to permit reproduction, distribution and making available of published works in formats designed to be accessible to the visually impaired and print disabled and to permit exchange of these works across borders by organizations that serve those beneficiaries.
Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure
The Budapest Treaty (1977) as amended on September 26, 1980 was extended to the Isle of Man on 1 January 2021. It concerns a specific topic in the international patent process: inventions involving microorganisms. All states party to the Treaty are obliged to recognize microorganisms deposited as a part of the patent disclosure procedure with an international depositary authority (IDA), irrespective of where the IDA is located. In practice this means that the requirement to submit microorganisms to each and every national authority in which patent protection is sought no longer exists.
Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks
The Singapore Treaty (2006) was extended to the Isle of Man on 1 January 2021. The objective is to create a modern and dynamic international framework for the harmonization of administrative trademark registration procedures. Building on the Trademark Law Treaty of 1994 (TLT), the Singapore Treaty has a wider scope of application and addresses more recent developments in the field of communication technologies. It is the first international instrument dealing with trademark law to explicitly recognize non-traditional marks. The Treaty is applicable to all types of marks, including non-traditional visible marks, such as holograms, three-dimensional marks, colour, position and movement marks, as well as non-visible marks such as sound, olfactory or taste and feel marks.
World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Copyright Treaty
The WIPO Copyright Treaty (1996) was extended to the Isle of Man on 1 January 2021. It is a special agreement under the Berne Convention that deals with the protection of works and the rights of their authors in the digital environment. Any Contracting Party (even if it is not bound by the Berne Convention) must comply with the substantive provisions of the 1971 (Paris) Act of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886). Furthermore, the WCT mentions two subject matters to be protected by copyright: (i) computer programs, whatever the mode or form of their expression; and (ii) compilations of data or other material ("databases"), in any form, which, by reason of the selection or arrangement of their contents, constitute intellectual creations.
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
The WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (1996) was extended to the Isle of Man on 1 January 2021. It deals with the rights of two kinds of beneficiaries, particularly in the digital environment: (i) performers (actors, singers, musicians, etc.); and (ii) producers of phonograms (persons or legal entities that take the initiative and have the responsibility for the fixation of sounds). These rights are addressed in the same instrument, because most of the rights granted by the Treaty to performers are rights connected to their fixed, purely aural performances (which are the subject matter of phonograms).
Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks
The Nice Agreement, concluded at Nice in 1957, revised at Stockholm in 1967 and at Geneva in 1977, and amended in 1979, establishes a classification of goods and services for the purposes of registering trademarks and service marks (the Nice Classification). It was extended to the Isle of Man on 23 March 2021.
Locarno Agreement Establishing an International Classification for Industrial Designs
The Locarno Agreement, concluded at Locarno in 1968 and amended in 1979, establishes a classification for industrial designs (the Locarno Classification). It was extended to the Isle of Man on the 23 March 2021.