Intellectual Property in Italy
Italy protects the intellectual property (IP) of both its citizens and foreigners. The question, “How does Italy protect IP?” has been ringing in my head since what turned out to be the most memorable day of my life.
I had checkmated my brother’s friend, Giovanni, for the third time that day. I didn’t know his age, but I guessed that he was about ten or eleven years my senior. Then he suggested that we switch to a short quiz, and since he was currently losing, he asked the first question.
Giovanni decided to ask how Italy protected intellectual property. Sadly, I never got to answer the question because he received an urgent call to return home and take over the family business. I haven’t seen him for over a decade now, but I hope that he reads this article someday, and it makes him happy.
Intellectual property can be classified into three main categories; copyrights, patents, and trademarks. With that said, Italy protects the three categories under different laws, and for different time periods. At the end of this article, you’ll understand how Italy is able to manage this.
Copyright Protection in Italy
Italy is a member of the European Union (EU) and, as such, follows EU copyright laws. In addition to laws enacted by the EU, Italy also implements international copyright treaties and conventions, including the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers, and Broadcasting Organizations of 1961; the Berne Convention of 1971; and the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) Copyright Treaty of 1996.
Therefore, Italy recognizes the minimum standards of protection for copyrights as stipulated in those international treaties. In addition to global conventions, Italy also uses its national copyright law.
Under the Italian Copyright Law (CL), you own the copyright to your work as soon as you create it. Article 25 of the CL specifies the types of works that are granted copyright protection in Italy. These include: literature, songs or music-related content, works of drama, databases, buildings and building plans.
You don’t have to undergo any special process in order to be entitled to copyright protection. However, you should register your work with the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE). The main advantage of this registration is to acquire evidence of the creation of the work so that you can have a strong case against potential infringers in the future.
There is no formal consequence of skipping the registration, but your work will be more prone to infringement, especially if it is unpublished. The termination of your work’s registration does not mean that your copyright has been revoked.
For more information about intellectual property, refer to the article below:
Patent Protection in Italy
Unlike a copyright, patent protection is obtained through registration of the patent with the Italian Patent and Trademark Office (UIBM). In Italy, you can apply for a patent for a new invention such as a standing fan, or a utility model like a standing fan with a carbon dioxide-rechargeable system. While the former is an entirely novel idea, the latter is an improvement on that idea.
What is the difference between the two? An invention patent lasts for twenty years, but a utility patent expires ten years from the filing date. Neither of them can be renewed. After their expires, they are released into public domain, and can be used, offered for sale, sold or imported without the owner’s permission.
Trademark Protection in Italy
The UIBM is responsible for registering trademarks protectable under Italian law. In order for your trademark to be protected in Italy, it must be registered with the UIBM, the EU or WIPO.
Other Ways Through Which Italy Protects Intellectual Property
When all has been said and done, IP rights are private rights. As a result, they cannot be enforced by the Italian government. It is your obligation as the right holder to enforce your right when necessary, or else, infringers will use your intellectual property for their economic gain.
The first way to enforce your IP is by using it. If you have written a book, sell some copies. Use your invention to make money. If your brand is trademarked, let the whole world know what you deliver.
In the case of IP infringement, Italy allows victims of the infringement to seek interpersonal solutions such as arbitration. Arbitration has the advantage of being faster than litigation because it usually only takes one meeting between the infringer, victim, and arbitrator to resolve the infringement claims.
Apparently, arbitration is a private process, so details about the IP dispute and any damages awarded (if any) will be kept private. This is healthier for your business and personality if you would rather not put up with bad press.
However, if you decide to go through with litigation to protect your intellectual property, the doors of the Italian courts are always open.