Weak mark protection and likelihood of confusion: the Italian Supreme Court’s ruling
With the decision no. 12566 of May 12, 2021, the Italian Supreme Court (in Italian, “Suprema Corte di Cassazione”) ruled on the protection of weak trademarks when examining the likelihood of confusion.
In particular, the Italian Supreme Court ruled on the correct assessment of the requirement of novelty of a trademark in comparison with a pre-registered trademark – according to the provisions of Article 12 of the Italian Industrial Property Code (Legislative Decree 2005/30) – in order to establish whether there is a likelihood of confusion for the public.
As a general rule, the Italian Supreme Court concluded that the descriptive component of the mark cannot impress the public as distinctive and therefore cannot be considered a dominant element of the mark.
Fight against audiovisual piracy: the Italian National Police’s Operation Black Out
In a press release of May 14, 2021, the Italian National Police announced a huge operation (“Operation Black Out”) against audiovisual piracy against the phenomenon of illegal IP TV.
The operation was carried out in several Italian cities and more than two hundred specialists from eleven regional Postal and Communications Police departments were involved, dismantling the complex criminal infrastructure both in terms of organisation and technology.
The criminal activity in question accounts for approximately 1,500,000 users who pay EUR 10 per month and has produced a business volume for criminals of EUR 15,000,000 per month, resulting in a much higher loss of revenue for pay-TV service providers.
The request for conversion of an invalid patent cannot be submitted after the final hearing the Italian Supreme Court said
With the decision no. 10396 of April 20, 2021, the Italian Supreme Court (in Italian, “Suprema Corte di Cassazione”) ruled on the request for conversion of an invalid patent and its admissibility during the process.
In particular, with regard to industrial property rights, the Art. 76 par. 3 of the Italian Industrial Property Code (Legislative Decree 2005/30) states that the request for conversion of the invalid patent may be claimed at any stage of the proceedings.
The Italian Supreme Court held that the above-mentioned request may be submitted up to the final hearing, since the subsequent defensive activities are intended to only clarify the claim already made. Therefore, the request for conversion raised in the closing statements must be declared inadmissible.
2020 Calls for incentive: UIBM reports progress up to 30 April 2021
On May 6, 2021, the Italian Patent and Trademark Office (in Italian, “Ufficio Italiano Brevetti e Marchi”, “UIBM”) reported on the progress – as at 30 April 2021 – of the group of calls for proposals for Patents+, Designs+ and Trademarks+, launched between September and October 2020.
In particular, according to the UIBM, were:
- approved and financed 282 applications for Patents+ for 21.5 million euros;
- 634 of the 708 applications for Trademarks+ approved;
- 264 applications approved and financed out of 303 for Designs+.
With regards to innovative start-ups, as of April 30, 2021, 4,305 applications for vouchers have been submitted and 3,561 have been granted for an overall amount of 15.2 million euros.
Decree on support for the performing arts and the arts
On May 20, 2021, the Italian Council of Ministers, following a proposal by President Mario Draghi and Economy and Finance Minister Daniele Franco, adopted a decree introducing urgent measures related to the COVID-19 emergency for businesses, labour, young people, health and territorial services.
The decree provides for a budget of about EUR 40 billion for seven main lines of action, including sectoral measures.
In particular, resources have been earmarked to support economic activities in specific sectors affected by the pandemic, such as culture and entertainment, by increasing the funds for the performing arts, cinema and audiovisual sector, as well as support of cultural institutions and museums.