JOIN THE “MILK FREE” COLLECTIVE MARK

 WHAT IS A COLLECTIVE MARK?

A mark is a sign which allows to distinguish products and services manufactured or distributed by a company, from those of other factories. According to article 7 of the Italian Code For Industrial Property (Codice della Proprietà Industriale- CPI), every graphically representable sign (words- personal names included-, drawings, letters, figures, sounds, shape of the product or of its package, combinations or colour schemes) may constitute an object of registration as a company mark.

Therefore, a sound may be registered as a mark, writing down on a pentagram the musical notation which composes it.

The shape of the product or its package might constitute a valid mark provided that the sign in question:

  • has its own autonomous distinctive character before the eyes of the average consumer, so that the consumer can link an ideal connection between the mark and both the product/service and its company
  • is not exclusively constituted by the form imposed by the inner nature of the product (given that the form of the product lacks of distinctive character), by the form of the product that is necessary to get a technical result (exclusively protectable by a patent or a utility model) or by the form which gives a substantial value to the product (art.9 CPI).

The combinations or the colour schemes may constitute a valid mark too; pure colours are of course excluded, for the use of them cannot be reserved to an exclusive owner.

Moreover, although the art. 7 of the Italian Code For Industrial Property doesn’t explicitly cites it, advertising taglines may also constitute a valid mark, provided that they present a distinctive character, meaning a sign which may be perceived by the consumers as a tool for identifying the commercial origin of the products or services that can be distinguished from those of their competitors without any confusion (for instance, the Italian furniture conglomerate mark Mondo Convenienza deposited its jingle “La nostra forza è il prezzo” both as a company mark and as a musical jingle)

However, it’s not possible to register olfactory marks -not graphically representable- for an international classification of odours does not exist, therefore odours cannot be precisely and unequivocally indicated.

The trade mark, the registration of which falls within the competence of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development. (Ministero Dello Sviluppo Economico), can be:

 

  • individual: if it belongs to a single company or physical person (the most common case)
  • collective: when it guarantees the origin, the nature or the quality of specific products or services. It is generally required by an “applicant entity” which can both be a physical or legal person (it’s generally associations, cooperatives or consortiums), and then it is allowed in use to the companies that will commit themselves to the regulations governing use, notwithstanding article 13, paragraph 1 of the CPI, a collective mark can consist in signs or indications that may be needed in the commercial field to attest the geographic origin (and therefore, the quality derived from its specific area of implementation) of the products/services. The Italian Patent and Trademark Office (UIBM- Ufficio Italiano Brevetti E Marchi) can, in addition, refuse registration when the requested marks might create situations of unjustified privileges or cause prejudice to the development of other local initiatives. The registration of the collective mark by geographical name does not allow the owner to prevent any third party from using said name, provided that it complies with the principles of professional fairness and it is limited to the function of indicating its origin.

Based on their constituent elements, we can identify three mark categories:

 

  • the word mark, constituted only by words
  • the figurative mark, constituted by a figure or a reproduction of real or fantasy objects
  • the mixed or combined mark, result of a combination between words and figures