Image Rights: Adding value to Goodwill.

By Keith Laker

Image Rights: Adding value to Goodwill.

In December last year, Icondia gave a presentation at the Wyscout football symposium concerning the significance of creating actual property rights by way of registered personality. All too often people dismiss the concept of the Guernsey Image Rights Ordinance as an irrelevance in the wider commercial world where image rights have long been accommodated by way of contracted rights between parties. They miss the point entirely – and it’s an important point.

Registration of Personality creates property rights. Unlike ‘goodwill’, which is the most ephemeral of assets, the creation of actual property rights means that transferring this personal property becomes easy. As things currently stand, it is difficult to transfer personal goodwill – it has to be wrapped up as part of a business, which is transferred in its entirety and which includes the goodwill as an asset on the balance sheet. In contrast, a registered personality and the associated registered images are personal property and the individual is free to dispose of this property accordingly.  For a celebrity personality, the value in this property may be substantial, but the point remains the same:  subject to the appropriate tax advice, registered personality can be transferred as easily as any other asset.

Clarification on this point was issued by HMRC during 2014, who conceded that registered image rights – as created on the Guernsey register – are indeed property rights in their view.   This point is discussed in a useful article by Richard Plaistowe of law firm Mills & Reeve, published in Lexology today. Plaistowe concludes by saying: “At a time when we are representing a number of footballers whose Image Rights Companies are being challenged by HMRC, many are looking at the registration of trademarks and/or registering their image rights in Guernsey as sensible steps to avoid such a challenge.”

The message could not be clearer. Registration of Personality brings with it the certainty of a public register, the advantages of dealing with property law, and a clearly stated – and advantageous – position from HMRC. Image rights registration deserves to be a default recommendation when dealing with any celebrity personality.

4 February 2015.

This note is only intended to give a brief summary and general overview of this area of law.  It is not intended to be, nor does it constitute, legal advice and should not be relied upon as doing so.

Icondia comprises a team of experts that focus exclusively on the registration and management of image rights for an international customer base.

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© Icondia 2015