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The protection of distinguishing marks of political parties

Civil Supreme Court, Section I, Order no. 11635 of 16 June 2020, Pres. Di Virgilio, Rel. De Marzo

date: 26.06.2020
Area: Intellectual Property

The Supreme Court recently intervened on the protection of the name and distinctive signs of political parties, overturning a ruling of the Court of Appeal of Florence, which had rejected the applications submitted by two political associations in order to obtain an assessment of their right to the exclusive use of the name, acronym and emblem, with consequent injunction to the use of such signs by the defendant association. In particular, the Territorial Court had found the alleged infringement of the exclusive right to use the symbol and name to be non-existent, resulting both from their distinctive weakness and from the measures taken to avoid confusion.

In upholding the appeal, the Supreme Court, firstly, states that the discipline of the non-recognised association must be applied to the political party. Such association, as a subject of law comparable to a legal person, certainly benefits from the protection of its distinctive signs, from where derives the possibility to request the cessation of any undue use of such signs, the related reinstatement of assets and compensation for damages under Article 2059 of the Civil Code (which includes any damage resulting from the violation of personality rights, such as the right to name, identity and image of the entity). Moreover, the Court reaffirms that the name of a legal person falls within the scope of Article 7 of the Italian Civil Code, as a sign of identification of the person, regardless of its nature and the possible performance of entrepreneurial activity, by virtue of the so-called principium individuationis. In other words, when one places oneself outside the market, the protection of the distinctive signs aims not at protecting economic interests, but at protecting the set of values and purposes that are pursued by the legal person in question. Finally, with specific reference to political parties, Articles 2, 21 and 49 of the Italian Constitution come into play, which establish the protection of the identity of these groups as autonomous centres of expression of ideas and actions.

The protection of distinguishing marks of political parties

Civil Supreme Court, Section I, Order no. 11635 of 16 June 2020, Pres. Di Virgilio, Rel. De Marzo

date: 26.06.2020
Area: Intellectual Property

The Supreme Court recently intervened on the protection of the name and distinctive signs of political parties, overturning a ruling of the Court of Appeal of Florence, which had rejected the applications submitted by two political associations in order to obtain an assessment of their right to the exclusive use of the name, acronym and emblem, with consequent injunction to the use of such signs by the defendant association. In particular, the Territorial Court had found the alleged infringement of the exclusive right to use the symbol and name to be non-existent, resulting both from their distinctive weakness and from the measures taken to avoid confusion.

In upholding the appeal, the Supreme Court, firstly, states that the discipline of the non-recognised association must be applied to the political party. Such association, as a subject of law comparable to a legal person, certainly benefits from the protection of its distinctive signs, from where derives the possibility to request the cessation of any undue use of such signs, the related reinstatement of assets and compensation for damages under Article 2059 of the Civil Code (which includes any damage resulting from the violation of personality rights, such as the right to name, identity and image of the entity). Moreover, the Court reaffirms that the name of a legal person falls within the scope of Article 7 of the Italian Civil Code, as a sign of identification of the person, regardless of its nature and the possible performance of entrepreneurial activity, by virtue of the so-called principium individuationis. In other words, when one places oneself outside the market, the protection of the distinctive signs aims not at protecting economic interests, but at protecting the set of values and purposes that are pursued by the legal person in question. Finally, with specific reference to political parties, Articles 2, 21 and 49 of the Italian Constitution come into play, which establish the protection of the identity of these groups as autonomous centres of expression of ideas and actions.