Intellectual property - Italy
Italy adopted European rules on trade marks in 1992 with Legislative Decree 480/92, subsequently replaced by Legislative Decree 30/2005 “Industrial Property Code”.
The Industrial Property Code includes and harmonizes the Italian, EU and international laws governing company trade marks. Besides patents and trade marks, the code also regulates new plant varieties and topographies of semiconductor products.
Intellectual property rights
Industrial property rights
A trade mark is a distinctive name, symbol, motto, design or other device associated with a product or service and identifying a specific company.
The de facto trade mark is distinguished from the registered trade mark, which benefits from greater protection. The registration lasts for two years from the date that the request is made, unless ownership is renounced, and can be renewed for another two years each time.
A patent is the exclusive right, granted by the government, to make use of an invention for a specific period of time and benefit from the commercial advantages that may accrue from it.
First of all, we distinguish between patents for inventions, regarding new devices (duration: 20 years), patents for utility models, which are improvements on anything that already exists (duration: 10 years).
Patents on industrial inventions last 20 years from the date on which the application form was filled in. Protection guaranteed by the patent can be requested for Italy only (a national patent) or for all EU countries (Community Trade Mark) or even for the majority of countries around the world (International Patent).
Industrial models differ between:
- Utility models - applicable to machines, tools, equipment or other existing objects;
- Industrial design right: special ornamentation of industrial products.
This type of patent lasts 10 years from when the application form was submitted. For the 'Industrial design right' model, the duration is five years and can be extended for five years at a time up to a maximum of 25 years.
Community trade marks are valid throughout the EU (consisting of 27 current Member States and the countries which will join in future). Registration is valid for 10 years and can be renewed.
Organisations and associations wishing to guarantee the origin, nature or quality of a specific product may obtain an individual or collective trade mark. These organisations may then allow their own or associated manufacturing or sales departments to use the trade mark.
The patents on new plant varieties protect new discoveries in the plant world. Protection lasts for 25 years, increased to 30 years for vine, tree, potatoe and plants with woody stems species.
Copyright is the exclusive original right to distribute and use intellectual property.
Copyright in Italy is mainly regulated by the law on copyright (Law No 633 of 22 April 1941) with subsequent amendments and by Title IX of Book 5 of the Civil Code. The work is automatically protected and any type of formality (deposit or registration) is requested from the authors.
Trade secrets can be defined as a document or information which must remain in the sphere of knowledge of the author or persons authorised by him.
Trade secrets do not need to be registered or documented for registration. These secrets may include client lists, working methods of production processes, information on distribution or production and information on research and development activities performed by the company.
Intellectual protection bodies
In Italy, patents and trade marks are the responsibility of the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, set up by the Chamber of Commerce of each province.
Protecting intellectual property rights abroad
The World Intellectual Property Organisation is a specialist agency of the United Nations which encourages and protects intellectual property around the world.
The holders of a national trade mark can extend protection to countries in or outside of Europe which adhere to two international agreements (Madrid Agreement and Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement) by sending a request for an international trade mark to the headquarters of the WIPO in Geneva.
At the international level, copyright is protected by the Berne Convention which has been signed by around one hundred countries. Works belonging to one of the countries taking part in the treaty enjoy the same rights in other countries as the law grants to their own citizens.
Combating counterfeiting and piracy
The budget for 2004 introduced the Intellectual Property Rights Helpdesks (IPR Helpdesks). The IPR Helpdesks are offices staffed with civil servants (located in ICE offices in 10 countries) with experience in intellectual property-related matters who monitor the market and provide information on industrial property system and its functions in the country in which they are active.
Property rights encourage investment in innovation and research.
To register a trade mark, you need to apply to the local Chamber of Commerce, send a registered letter with return receipt to the Italian Patent and Trade mark Office based in Rome, or apply online using the “Telemaco” service.
Inventors may extend the intellectual property rights of a trade mark to the whole of the EU through the Trade marks and Designs Registration Office of the EU (UAMI).
To extend an Italian trade mark to non-European countries you need to apply to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) (based in Geneva) for an international registration, who will then forward the applications to non-European countries.
In Italy, businesses wishing to invest in research, development and innovation may benefit from financing provided by the Framework Programme Agreements (APQ) which are strategic agreements made between the government and the regions.
Check also the legislation on this topic in: