A NEWSLETTER prepared by Graham & James LLP

March, 2000

INTERNET DOMAIN NAMES. Frette S.p.A., owner of the registered trademark "Frette" and entitled user of the domain name "frette.it", sued Starnet S.r.l., who had previously registered the domain name "frette.com". The Court of Rome ruled for the plaintiff and granted injunctive relief to Frette S.p.A., thus enjoining the defendant’s use of the name "frette". The Court held that the internet domain name is more than an electronic address, and as such deserves protection. The Court ruled that if a company registers the trademark of another company as its domain name, it commits trademark infringement and violates the exclusive rights to which the trademark owner is entitled.

It may be noted that defendant, Starnet S.r.l., had registered many other domain names corresponding to the trademarks of other famous Italian companies. Therefore, the ruling of the Court of Rome is consistent with the trend in international case law on the issue of domain names: if the defendant is found to have acted in bad faith, the courts are generally more inclined to prevent the domain name holder from using it.

Source: order issued by the Court of Rome on 22nd December 1999, published on "Diritto e Pratica delle Società" of 20th March 2000, Il Sole 24 Ore – Pirola editor.

IMPLEMENTATION OF GAS DIRECTIVE. The draft decree whereby the Italian Government plans to implement EC Directive 98/30, concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas, is now available. The draft is undergoing parliamentary review and should come into force by the end of June 2000. It is made of forty articles, dealing with all the relevant phases of gas stream: supply, transport and dispatch, storage, distribution and sale. Among the most important provisions are those, devised to foster competition in the sector. They establish, as from 1 January 2003, thresholds in the sales market and in the imports market. On the other hand, existing take-or-pay contracts shall not be assigned and could represent a valid reason to reject third party access requests.

Source: the draft decree may be found on the web site of the major Italian financial newspaper: www.ilsole24ore.it.

NEW RULES ON PART TIME WORKERS. The Government implemented Directive 97/81/CE of 15 December 1997. The implementing law, Legislative Decree no. 61 of 25 February 2000, came into force on 5 April 2000.

The main provisions of Decree no. 61 concern:

  • Freedom for the employer to bargain that beginning of working hours in different days of the week may vary according to agreement with part time workers concerned. Previous laws allowed only for the same working hours every day of the week.
  • The principle that part time workers cannot be discriminated in the exercise, or deprived of any right granted by law or collective agreements to full time workers.
  • The principle that part time workers have a right of precedence in case their employer needs additional full time workers for the same or similar jobs they do. In this case, before hiring outsiders, an offer of full time employment must be made to all part time workers employed by the said employer within the distance of 100 Km. from where the additional workers are needed. Refusal to become a full time worker cannot be ground for dismissal.

Source: Legislative Decree no. 61 of 25 February 2000, published in the Official Gazette no. 66 of 20 March 2000.

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