Industrial property

Industrial property is one of the two great categories – the other is literary and artistic property (authors' rights) – which constitute intellectual property.
We use the expression 'intellectual property' to refer to the entire set of rights known as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

They are of two kinds:

• personal, i.e. the moral right to be recognised as the author of the work or deviser of the technical solution or of the trademark, which is a completely personal and inalienable right

• pecuniary, connected with the economic exploitation of this creative activity, which on the other hand is a disposable and transmissible right.
The products of human ingenuity, by their very nature and the regulations that govern them, can be classified into three broad categories:

• products of creative ingenuity which relate to the world of art and culture (literary works, theatrical, cinematic and television spectacles, photographs, pictures, architectural designs organisational schemes etc.)

• distinctive signs, such as a trademark, company name, insignia, geographical indication or denomination of origin

• technical and design innovations connected for example with inventions, utility models, industrial designs and models, topographies of semiconductor products or new plant varieties.

It is only in reference to these two latter categories that we can properly speak of industrial property rights. Article 1 of the Italian Industrial Property Code (CPI) in fact states: “For the purposes of this Code, the expression 'industrial property' comprises trademarks and other distinctive signs, geographical indications, denominations of origin, designs and models, inventions, utility models, topographies of semiconductor products, confidential company information and new plant varieties”.

Article 2 of the Code then states that industrial property rights are acquired by patenting, registration, or in the other ways provided by the Code itself. In particular the following items may be

• patented: inventions, utility models, new plant varieties

• registered: trademarks, designs and models, topographies of semiconductor products.

Distinctive signs other than a registered trademark, confidential company information, geographical indications and denominations of origin are, however, protected when the legal conditions are fulfilled. It is interesting to observe that the consolidated law on industrial property distinguishes between “titular rights” (originating from patenting or registration) and “non-titular rights”, which arise from the fulfilment of particular conditions. Company secrets, non-registered trademarks and denominations of origin have always been governed by the rules on unfair competition and their insertion into the Industrial Property Code has reinforced the protection.

The exclusive rights which patenting and registration confer are issued by the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, at the request of the interested party and following verification that the requirements laid down by law are fulfilled. The document, which takes the name "patent" or "registration" depending on the case, is an administrative deed which has a double nature:

• declaratory, because it presupposes the fulfilment of certain requirements

• constitutive, because it confers new rights on the holder.

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