In just a few weeks, Piaggio – the Italian company manufacturing iconic Vespa scooters – obtained a double victory before Italian courts both under the intellectual property and the copyright perspectives.
The first, relating to a judgement issued in March 2017 by the Italian Supreme Court, concerned a case of reproduction of the image of the well-known Italian scooter "Vespa" on various gadgets and clothes. The Italian Supreme Court, recalling a consolidated Italian case law orientation on the protection of figurative signs, has ascertained counterfeiting over the mere reproduction of the image of the product even in the absence of any imitation of the registered distinctive trademark. Indeed, according to the judgement, the counterfeiting occurs anytime a trademark or a distinctive sign referable to a specific product is reproduced in a manner which is suitable to create confusion among consumers as regards the origin of the product.
Under the above circumstances, the reproduction of the distinctive trademark is not essential to qualify the unlawful behaviour as counterfeiting.
In line with previous case law, the Italian Supreme Court confirmed once again the legal protection recognized to figurative signs also by way of criminal law.
A few weeks later, Piaggio obtained another remarkable success for the protection of its products. Indeed, the court of Turin granted copyright protection to Vespa scooters, upgrading their protection to one reserved to artwork of industrial design having creative character and artistic value.
Such a decision has been issued in connection to a lawsuit against a Chinese manufacturer of scooters considered as "clones" of the Vespa ones: in that proceeding, the court of Turin also recognized the validity of a Piaggio three-dimensional trademark. This decision is quite relevant since it recognized the Vespa scooter as artwork of industrial design, worthy of copyright protection. According to the court, during past decades, the Vespa scooter has collected a number of awards, publications, exhibitions and appearances both in the artistic and motorcycle sectors which confirmed the creative features and the artistic value of the same.
Although the judgement is still subject to appeal, it represents a remarkable step towards legal protection of iconic pieces of the Italian lifestyle.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.