Amendments to the Italian Intellectual Property Code: more protection for geographical indications

11 October 2010

Licia Garotti, Marco Annoni

With effect from 2 September 2010, the Italian Legislative Decree no. 131 of 13 August 2010 amended the Italian Intellectual Property Code (IPC) with the aim, among the others, of harmonising the Code with the European and International laws.

In light of the above, the IPC underwent a sort of “process of clarification and reformulation”, with the clear purpose of (trying to) avoid possible misinterpretations of the content of certain rules.

The opportunity of a “restyle” transpired, in facts, also from certain Italian case law, where judges of different Italian courts sometimes decided in a contradictory manner on the same topic.

Among other important amendments, the recent law strengthened the instruments for the enforcement and the protection of Intellectual Property rights and, with specific reference to geographical indications, the implementation of the above mentioned Italian Legislative Decree introduced interesting news also for protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI).

In particular, Article 30 IPC, which concerns the possible protection of PDOs and PGIs, now clearly provides that the use of geographical indications is forbidden not only if this is suitable for deceiving the public, but also when their use causes the unlawful exploitation of the reputation of the protected designation.

The clarification has been very welcome in the market, since it was not clear whether the protection could be pushed behind the deceit about the origin of the product.

The new wording also prevents those cases where the link to the reputation of the PGI can be considered as unlawful, even if the product effectively originates from the place of the PDO or PGI.

The new IPC will be a more effective tool for supporting the Intellectual Property Rights owners in the protection against the infringement, acknowledging, once more, the food and beverage sector as one of the most important driving sectors for the Italian economy.