Civil and Criminal
Both civil and criminal proceedings are in principle available options for the enforcement of intellectual property in Italy.
Only attorneys-at-law with membership in Italian Bars are admitted to represent before Italian courts.
Specialised Court Sections
Civil proceedings concerning all intellectual property and related unfair competition matters fall within the exclusive competence of specialised court sections of 12 Italian cities: Bari, Bologna, Catania, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Rome, Turin, Trieste and Venice. Criminal proceedings do not fall within the competence of the specialised sections.
The Italian legal system offers a wide range of interim measures that are effective in stopping the infringing activity and are obtainable in a short time, sometimes within weeks or even days: restraining orders, seizure of the goods, recall of the goods from the market; other measures include an evidence-gathering procedure called description, disclosure of the infringer’s accounting books, and publication of the interlocutory decision in newspapers or magazines.
Such measures may be granted even ex parte, without hearing the defendant.
Italian courts may award damages for the infringement of intellectual property rights or for unfair competition. The amount of the award is determined by taking into consideration many factors including the right holder’s loss of potential profits, the benefits enjoyed by the infringer and moral damages, or alternatively the royalty which would have been paid if the right holder had authorised the use of the infringed rights, or the repayment of profits made by the infringement.
The costs of litigation in Italy are definitely reasonable when compared to those in most other European Union countries. The prevailing party at the end of a full litigation may recover at least a portion of the fees incurred.