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Italy

Intellectual property

Updated 03/2013

Legal requirements

Italy adopted the European legislation on trade marks through the Industrial Property Code.

Industrial Property Code includes and harmonizes the Italian, EU and international legislation governing trade marks, invention patents, models and designs.

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property Rights

A trade mark is a distinctive name, symbol, motto, design or other device associated with a product or service, designed to identify the specific company and identifying the specific company which supplied it.

The de facto trade mark is distinguished from the registered trade mark, which benefits from greater protection. Registration lasts ten years from the date that the request is made, unless ownership is renounced, and when expired, can be renewed for another ten years each time.

For the registration to be successful, the trade mark must be original, unless it was registered in a foreign state, with the exception of well-known brands or in the case where the registration is done in bad faith.

The de facto trade mark (not registered) is subject to all the risks that would arise from any same registration by others.

A patent is, on the other hand, an exclusive right, granted by the government, that authorizes the business owner to make use of an invention for a specific period of time, allowing him to benefit from the commercial advantages that may derive from it.

First of all, we distinguish between the patent for inventions, regarding a new creation (duration:  20 years), from the patent for utility models, which is an improvement on an existing creation (duration 10 years).

The protection guaranteed by the patent can be requested only for the national territory (national patent) or for the majority of countries around the world (international patent). With regards to the EU, on the 11 December 2012, the European Parliament approved the regulation that as from 2014 the Community Patent will be introduced.

The industrial models differ between:

  • Utility models: applicable to machines, tools, equipment or other existing objects;
  • Designs and models: distinctive signs that contribute to the identification of a certain type of product.

This type of patent lasts 10 years from when the application form was submitted. For design models, the duration is five years and can be extended for another five years, up to a maximum of 25 years.

The Community trade marks are valid throughout the territory of the EU (consisting of 27 current Member States and the countries that 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 patents for trade marks of the individual type or the collective type. These organisations may then allow their own or associated producers or traders members of the organization or association, the use of the patent.

Copyright

Copyright is the exclusive original right to distribute and use intellectual property.

Italian law protects all intellectual properties related to literary works, theatre, visual arts, architecture, cinema and science, acknowledging the author a number of economic and moral rights.

Protection is automatic and no formalities (filing or registration) are required from the author.

Organisations for the protection of intellectual property

In Italy, patents, and trademarks are the responsibility of the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, established at the Chamber of Commerce of each province.

Protecting intellectual property rights abroad

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (World Intellectual Property Organisation-WIPO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes and protects intellectual property around the world.

Trade marks

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.

Copyright

At 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 Convention enjoy the same rights in other countries as the law grants to their own citizens.

Combating counterfeiting and piracy

In 2004 Italy introduced the Helpdesk for protecting intellectual property (IPR Desk). These are offices staffed with civil servants (located in ICE offices in 10 countries) with experience in intellectual property-related matters who have the task of monitoring the market and provide information on the industrial property system and on its operation in the country of competence.

Property rights encourage investment in innovation and research.

Administrative procedures

Registration of trademarks and patents

To register a trademark it is necessary to submit an appropriate application to the local Chamber of Commerce or send it to the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, based in Rome, by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt. If a digital signature is available, the application can be submitted online through the "Telemaco" service.

Inventors may extend the intellectual property rights of a trade mark to the whole of the European Union, through the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market of the EU (OHIM)

To extend an Italian trade mark to non-European countries, you need to submit an international application to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), based in Geneva, who will thenl forward the relevant applications to non-European countries.

The European Patent Office is the institution responsible for granting the European patent, after reviewing the various proposals for a patent. In addition, the EPO shall establish research reports, intended to assess the patentability of an invention.

Help & advice

Help & advice

The local Chamber of Commerce assists companies in administrative procedures necessary for the registration of trademarks and patents. The full list of local offices can be found on the Chamber of Commerce website.

SOLVIT helps businesses deal with problems that arise when national authorities wrongly apply EU market rules.

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

Choose your country and town and enter your enquiry below.

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