Legal Document Translation Services
and Intellectual Property Law in Italy

Italian to English Patent Translation Services

Certified legal document translation services play an important role in intellectual property law.

In Italy intellectual property law tends to lag behind the rest of Europe, and many other developed countries for that matter. In fact, the US Trade representative consistently lists Italy on either its Watch or Priority Watch Lists. The country’s intellectual property laws – or lack thereof – is of particular concern to the music, film, software, publishing, fashion and pharmaceutical industries.

In reaction to this reputation, Italy has introduced new, strong legislation. And while this legislation is a step in the right direction, the system is still plagued by a lack of enforcement.

In this legal blog post we take a look at some particular areas of Italian IP law and what US companies can do to protect themselves.

Italian Copyright Translation

According to Italian copyright law, the author of any original intellectual work is protected, regardless of whether or not he or she registered their copyright with the Copyright Office. Italian law automatically protects the copyright for the life of the creator plus 70 years following their death.

If a copyrighted item is placed for sale on the Italian market, it must include the sticker of the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers and, in some cases, product identification declarations must be filed in Italian, thus requiring an English into Italian translation.

Italian Trademark Protection

Italian law provides for trademark protection for all new names, designs or symbols that identify a product in the market. However, trademark protection is territorial, meaning that a US registered trademark is not recognized in Italy. Instead, the trademark must be registered in Italy, which will require a legal translation of the application.
It should also be noted that, unlike the US, Italy uses a first to register system for determining trademarks. Accordingly, the first person to register a trademark – in Italy – is granted ownership of the trademark even if the mark is already in use by another party (albeit unregistered).

Since Italy is part of the European Union, one can register their trademark throughout all Member States with a single application via the Office for Harmonization of the Internal Market. EU trademarks have a lifespan of ten years.

Italian Patent Translation Services

A US company can obtain international protection by filing for a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office and under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (of which Italy is a signatory). This is an international agreement aimed at creating a unified and simplified way to register patents in multiple countries.

In Europe, there is no single patent protection throughout Europe. Instead, patents must be registered in each individual country and in that country’s language. Thus, a foreign language translation into Italian of one’s patent registration will be required. The terms of protection are a non-renewable period of 20 years. According to Italian law, patents are freely transferable, but all assignments must be individually registered with the Italian Patent and Trademark Office.

In order to be approved, a patent application must satisfy the requirements of novelty, utility and inventiveness. Unlike in the US, Italy applies a first to file principle, granting a patent to the inventor who files their application first.

A Word on Enforcement

Italy’s intellectual property law falls under bot the criminal and civil codes. The criminal code places enforcement under the jurisdiction of the country’s Finance Police, in conjunction with local police authorities. The law authorizes the police to seize all counterfeit goods. On the civil side, legislation has been passed that establish administrative fees from 100 to 10,000 Euros for consumers caught purchasing or accepting counterfeit goods.

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