The existing EC Regulation no. 3842/86 on the circulation of counterfeit goods of 1 December 1986 was only brought into force in Italy in March 1993 and then only after proceedings were brought against it by the European Court of Justice. Now Italy has the opportunity of demonstrating to its European partners that it is more ready to implement EC legislation in this area since the successor to that Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the European Communities on 30 December 1994. The new Regulation no. 3295/94 is applicable from 1 July 1995 and establishes the measures to be adopted in order to prevent the free circulation, exportation and re-exportation of counterfeit goods.

Of the most important innovations that the new legislation will introduce is the fact, that unlike the old Regulation, the new one will extend beyond trademarks to cover works that are protected by copyright to objects that are protected by legislation for designs and ornamental models. Besides this, the provisions of the Regulation in question also extend to the packaging of such objects as well as to every type of distinctive mark, and to prints and stencils designed to be used in the infringement of intellectual property rights.

Not only does the new regulation set out to prevent the free circulation of counterfeit goods, but also to prevent their exportation, re-exportation and, ultimately their circulation in the markets of the European Union.

Customs authorities will be given the right to intervene autonomously if goods come within their control that are obviously counterfeit. They will have authority to suspend customs clearance or to go ahead and block the goods for up to three days in order to allow the owner of the relative intellectual property rights to file an appropriate request for intervention.

The existing Regulation gives the relevant bodies ten days in which to inform the customs authorities of a complaint made to them for consideration, or of any measures of confiscation decided by them. This period is to be extended to twenty days by the new Regulation.

Where the competent authority has taken action which has not been requested by the owner of the rights in question, that person shall have a period of twenty days, starting from the day on which he receives notice of such action, in which to commence proceedings in his own name.

Since the new Regulation clearly offers far wider protection and power to impede the free circulation of counterfeit goods in the markets of the Community, it is to be hoped that the Italian legislators will waste no time in implementing it.

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