Italy responds to EU threats regarding Community trademark courts


The Italian government has amended a bill already before Parliament, providing for the designation of national courts that will have exclusive jurisdiction to hear Community trademark cases. The government was prompted to amend the bill by a European Commission decision to initiate infringement proceedings against Italy (and Spain) for not complying with a European Council regulation on the matter.

The Community Trademark Regulation requires each of the 15 EU member states to designate a limited number of national courts with exclusive jurisdiction to hear Community trademark cases. Although none of the member states met the deadline of March 17 1997, Italy and Spain are the only countries which still have not made this designation. As a result, the commission decided to initiate infringement proceedings against both countries.

Faced with the prospect of heavy fines, the Italian government acted quickly to submit to Parliament an amendment to a bill that had already been through the Lower House. The amendment provides that, within six months of the bill's enactment, the government will provide a maximum of eight divisions in the lower and higher courts with jurisdiction to hear cases involving Community trademarks. It is rumoured that the courts will be located in some of the following cities: Bari, Bologna, Catania, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Rome, Trieste, Turin and/or Venice.

Francesca Rolla, Lovells, Milan

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