Following the implementation of the EU Trademark Directive in February 2019, there has been much debate in Italy over how to manage and choose between collective marks, individual multi-use marks and certification marks. While the new IP regime offers new opportunities, it also requires a careful review of existing regulations and a case-by-case verification of whether a collective mark can be maintained or whether it must be transformed into a certification mark.
A recent Court of Cassation decision concerned the amendment of a company's articles of association to considerably increase the percentage of legal reserve and extraordinary statutory reserve before dividends were distributed in favour of shareholders. The question before the court was whether the amendment was grounds for a shareholders' withdrawal on the basis that it was an amendment of articles of association with regard to shareholders' voting rights or their participation.
Since the introduction of provisions to the Income Tax Code aimed at regulating the taxation of trusts and related beneficiaries, the tax treatment applicable to income distribution from foreign opaque trusts has not been clarified by law. A new decree law has filled this legal void by providing for a new class of 'financial income', represented by income paid to Italian resident beneficiaries by non-EU trusts established in low-tax jurisdictions.
The directors of a credit company placed under extraordinary administration for serious irregularities learned that an employee had covertly given the company's former general manager some confidential company documents, which he had had no reason to access. The employee was subject to internal disciplinary proceedings and dismissed for a serious breach of the obligation of loyalty to her employer, but challenged her dismissal in court.
A recent Padua Labour Court decision affirmed that the traditional concept of subordinated relationships between employers and employees should be redesigned to reflect how changes in technology are reshaping company organisation. This decision is one of the first in which an Italian labour court has considered whether the traditional concept of employment relationships is still valid or if employees' and employers' rights should be considered differently in light of technology's impact on organisations.
A significant recent judgment by the Genoa Court of Appeal examined the extent and nature of the informative duties imposed on shipbrokers under Italian law. The decision applies to shipbrokers the principles outlined by the Italian courts for general brokerage activities (in particular, real estate brokerage for which the case law is richer and more consistent). Consequently, a general and uniform legal framework has been extended to shipbrokers.
Employees injured at work are compensated by the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL), but can also bring an action before the civil courts against their employers or other liable third parties for damages not covered by INAIL. However, the criteria that the courts should follow to quantify so-called 'differential damages' remain unclear, which is relevant for third-party liability insurers exposed to indemnification claims arising from INAIL's recourse actions.
Industrial property lawyers in Italy have been given cause for reflection following a recent European Court of Justice decision which was expected to clarify whether the legislatures of EU member states can grant copyright protection for designs subject to additional requirements to those required for all other copyrighted works. This issue is of particular importance in Italy, as copyright protection is granted to designs on the condition that they have 'artistic value', as assessed by the courts, as well as a creative aspect.
According to a recent Lazio Regional Administrative Court ruling, before reaching a decision on the revocation of incentives, the Energy Services Operator must confirm whether the renewables exception set out in Article 42(3) of Legislative Decree 28/2011 applies (ie, the plant in question must have received incentives when the violation was verified) and assess the size of the reduction with regard to the extent of the violation detected.
Article 2497 of the Civil Code sets out that companies which provide direction to coordinate their subsidiaries are directly liable to the subsidiaries' minority shareholders for any damages caused to profitability and shareholding value by a violation of fair management principles. In this context, a recent Supreme Court of Cassation decision examined how to assess whether a corporate group exists and the scope of controlling entities' direction and coordination activities.
A recent reform introduced a non-possessory floating pledge to the Italian legal framework. Under the reform, the perfection of such security can take place without the delivery of a pledged asset to the secured creditor, thus introducing an important exception to the general legal framework. Similar to the floating charge structure, the absence of a dispossession requirement enables entrepreneurs to retain the availability of collateral which can be used in the course of the productive cycle.
Few Italian precedents have considered the plausibility of a second medical use invention as a potential requirement for patent validity. However, a recent decision has clearly stated for the first time and as a matter of principle that the plausibility of an invention does not need the support of experimental data; rather, credible information based on a sound scientific and technical rationale is sufficient.
Following the General Data Protection Regulation's (GDPR's) entry into force, the legislature asked the Data Protection Authority to review and update the so-called 'general authorisations' that it issued to allow the processing of sensitive data in the absence of the data subject's consent. Drawing on Article 9 of the GDPR, the Data Protection Authority subsequently issued Provision 146/2019, which sets out the requirements for processing special categories of data in employment relationships.
Due to the continued increase in the number of commercial flights and the resulting growth of passenger compensation claims under the EU Flight Delay Compensation Regulation, Ryanair and Codacons (the largest Italian consumer association) recently signed a valuable partnership agreement which will see them cooperate to settle claims made under the regulation by Italian passengers through alternative dispute resolution.
The Supreme Court of Cassation recently held that the postponement of loan reimbursements to company partners or shareholders applies not only in cases of court-assessed insolvency, but also if a company experiences temporary financial difficulties. The court also found that company management must refuse to reimburse loans to partners or shareholders if the company was experiencing financial difficulties when the loan was granted or the reimbursement was requested.
A recent Tribunal of Genoa case concerning a yacht lost during carriage examined whether the Italian courts have jurisdiction to appoint court surveyors and order survey operations to take place in Italy where the merits of a dispute are not subject to Italian jurisdiction. According to the tribunal, the fact that the merits of the dispute in question were to be decided in London did not deprive the Italian courts' jurisdiction to order inspection and survey operations on goods located in Italy.
The posting of employees from an EU country to Italy must comply with Legislative Decree 136/2016. The law applies to companies established in EU member states which, in the context of the provision of services, post to Italy one or more employees in favour of another company, including those belonging to the same group, another production unit or another recipient, on the condition that during the posting, an employment relationship continues to exist with the posted employee.
A recent Supreme Court of Cassation decision examined whether there were justified objective reasons for an employer to dismiss an employee following his refusal to reduce his hours in the wake of a company reorganisation to reduce labour costs and increase productivity. The court examined previous case law in this regard, reassessed the parameters of justified objective reasons for dismissal and set out the scope of judicial examinations of such a dismissal's legitimacy.
The Supreme Court of Cassation recently reversed a Milan Court of Appeal ruling on patent limitation. The Supreme Court of Cassation found that although the Milan Court of Appeal had held the patent at issue to be valid, it had not granted the patentee's claims for infringement because the patent had been subject to a limitation procedure and the acts of infringement had been carried out before the application for limitation had been filed.
The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission and the Italian Institute for the Supervision of Insurance recently entered into a memorandum of understanding setting out the basis for cooperation between the two supervisory authorities in the context of a broader plan of general cooperation between Italy and China. It will be interesting to see what concrete effects (if any) the memorandum will have, particularly in the context of the present unstable geopolitical situation.