17 September 2005

Greetings from the Isle of Man

As you will have gathered from the title to the post, my wife and I are taking a long weekend in the Isle of Man. If you click this link or the one on the title, you will be transported to the Manx government website tourism home page which should show a webcam picture of the Promenade at Douglas including the hotel from where I am sending this post. If you click back to the webcam you will see that it is in the middle of the picture.

While I will give a hotel and restaurant review, the main purpose of this post is to give an intro to the legal and financial status of the Isle of Man. Though I am here on holiday, I enjoy my work so much that intellectual property is never far from my thoughts and I spent much of yesterday thinking about the island as a venue for special purpose vehicles for securitizing royalty streams and escrow. About two weeks ago, I had emailed one of the advocates (the equivalent of solicitors in Canada or attorneys in the USA as they have a fused profession here as in North America) who claims expertise in media and technology law but that man never responded to two emails, two telephone calls or even a voicemail message. So, if there are opportunities to be had here, neither he nor his firm will participate in them.

For readers outside our continent, the Isle of Man is an island about 50 kilometres long and 15 wide in the Irish sea almost equidistant to England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. While it is part of the British Isles it is not part of the United Kingdom. Nor is it part of the European Union or the European Economic Area though it enjoys qualified access to EC markets and some Community laws apply here. Its relationship is governed with the rest of the EU is by art 296 (c) of the Treaty of Rome as amended and Protocol 3 of the treaty by which the UK acceded to the EC. It was once an independent kingdom though the King of Man restyled his title to that of "Lord of Man" in the 15th century. The title of Lord of Man has now passed to the Queen of the United Kingdom who is represented in the island by a Lieutenant-Governor. The island has its own ancient legislature known as the Tynwald to whom the executive (the Council of Ministers) is responsible. For most practical purposes, the island is self-governing though the UK Parliament has occasionally legislated for the Isle of Man. For example, s.47 of the Registered Designs Act 1949 as amended extends UK registered designs law to the island.

Intellectual property rights are protected in the island by British statute, local statutes and common law. The registrable rights, that is to say patents, trade marks and designs, are governed by Acts of the UK Parliament while copyrights, design rights and rights in performances are governed by Acts of Tynwald that appear to be based substantially on our Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Obligations in confidence and the law of passing off are governed by the local common law. A basic introduction to IP law in the island appears on the Manx government website. In addition, the island has its own data protection legislation with its own Data Protection Supervisor who appears to operate similarly to the Information Commissioner in Wilmslow and it has its own country code top level domain name space administered by the Isle of Man Domain Registry.

Because taxation in the Isle of Man is more favourable than in the UK and other EC states it has a highly developed financial services sector. One of the things that I hope to ascertain while I am here is its appropriateness for securitization and source code escrow schemes. On those things I shall keep you posted.

Now the hotel and restaurant review. I am staying at the Admiral House on a special deal from the holiday company associated with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company which operates ferries between the island and Great Britain and Ireland. The hotel is clean enough with the usual mod cons but it is terribly noisy. We are on the ground floor facing a side road off the Prom. My wife tore more than one strip off the management last night for the thump, thump, thump of the disco. Alluding to what the Duke of Wellington once said of the Highlander regiments at the battle of Waterloo, I don't know what they do to the enemy but my wife laying into tradesmen sure as hell scares the life out of me. Also, they are attached to an Italian restaurant called Ciappellis which is woefully overpriced. I paid £124.70 last night for a 2 course meal with the cheapest wine on the wine list that was just alright with pretty average service. Petrol here is also dear (£1.09 a litre of unleaded) but that is at least forgivable given geography and the world oil market. My impression after one day. It's a nice place to visit but I shan't darken the doors of the Admiral's house or Ciappelli's again. I shall stay at Port Erin next time which is enchanting.

1 comment:

Robert J Mercer said...

One can imagine how one email might go missing, but two? and two telephone calls, and a voicemail message?

I think your attempts to contact this advocate are exceptional, most people give up far quicker than this!

Why does technology sometimes make it harder to contact people? It doesn't have to be this way.