Bosch decision prompts controversial cybersquatting law

Italy

Italy does not have any legislation that specifically addresses cybersquatting. Instead, courts have relied on trademark and unfair competition laws to resolve domain name disputes. However, a recent appeal decision in the Court of Empoli has left the application of these laws to cybersquatting cases in doubt.

The German company Robert Bosch, which is the registered owner of the BLAUPUNKT trademark in Italy, brought an action for trademark infringement against an Italian company that had registered the domain name 'blaupunkt.it'. The court held that because a trademark is essentially a graphical representation of a name, it is not appropriate to use trademark law to protect domain names, which are a combination of letters and numbers making up an address in cyberspace.

As a result of the Bosch decision, the Senate has proposed domain name-specific legislation. However, the first draft of this legislation has met with harsh criticism from the internet industry. The industry's main criticism is that the legislation attempts to be exhaustive, making no allowance for future developments. In addition, the Senate proposes a limit on the liability for cybersquatting (a maximum €30,000 fine), which the industry feels may not reflect the real commercial damage done to an organization whose intellectual property rights are infringed.

Nigel Wildish, Field Fisher Waterhouse, London

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