Is Made in Italy really made in Italy? This is the question everyone is asking, in Italy and worldwide. The Made in Italy trademark is extremely desirable by producers, as it represents a brand of quality for a variety of products – from fashion to food, from scientific research to culture.
Hence why the misuse of the Made in Italy brand by deceptive producers in order to mislead consumers into buying products labelled as made in Italy, even if they are not. To prevent this phenomenon, the Italian Government passed a law for the protection of the Italian trademark.
What does Made in Italy mean? What products are fabricated in Italy? The difference between origin and provenance.
The Italian Government has decided to protect Made in Italy and to prosecute illegal businesses, especially in the agri-food industry. The “made in Italy” refers to the concept of origin and provenance of a product, but they are not the same thing:
- The origin of a product refers to the place where it is born – e.g. an agricultural product – or built – an industrial or artisanal product;
- The provenance, on the other hand, specifies where the product is sent from.
The European Union has long since adopted regulations with the aim to put a stop to the infringement of the Made in Italy trademark and protect European consumers from counterfeit products. As a matter of fact, the practice of trying to adopt the Made in Italy trademark for goods that are actually produced elsewhere is extremely widespread, and has a specific name: the Italian sounding.
This phenomenon has involved numerous historic Italian trademarks, when acquired by extra-EU companies. Those companies obtained an Italian brand and kept selling the same goods under a Made in Italy mark, despite the goods being produced elsewhere and with different raw materials as the original ones. The final consumer thinks to be purchasing an Italian-labelled product, whereas it has actually been made out of Italy, out of non-Italian materials. That is true for food as well as for industrial products. Hence why the Italian Government has enabled laws that aim to protect all Italian and foreign companies seeking to register a trademark in Italy.
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How to register a trademark in Italy. Rules and Procedures
Italy is widely known to be a wonderful country, despite bureaucracy being one of its biggest negatives, along with the great quantity of paperwork needed to file any kind of application. The advice of a good lawyer for the registration of a trademark in Italy is essential in order. As a matter of fact, the procedure to file a foreign trademark in Italy can be found online – the link is available on the website of the Italian Patent and Trademark Office. However, the difficulty does not lie in the application procedure itself as much as in the choice of what type of mark to register. This choice can concern the type of service, the words or the image. These factors will forever identify the goods or services represented by the trademark.
When is Made in Italy really made in Italy?
To really be Italian, a product has to be made in Italy, with Italian products. This aspect is crucial according to the Italian Government, who adopted several laws to promote private production, focusing on the added value of the Made in Italy know-how. Hence why every new trademark registered in Italy (even by a British company), if focused on the qualitative characteristics of Made in Italy, may well obtain conspicuous financial resources. These can be used to sustain the initial production costs, as well as the costs of distributing the product on a fast-growing market that assigns quality characteristics to Made in Italy.
No more exploiting Italian sounding in trademarks
The phenomenon of ‘Italian sounding’ concerns products made worldwide but labelled with words that evoke, by their sound, Italian names, thus misleading consumers regarding their origin.
This illegal practice is particularly common among agri-food producers. Among others, Mexico-produced Parma Salami, Mortadella Siciliana from Brazil, Ligurian pesto from Pennsylvania are some examples of infringement of Italian trademarks. They represent a deceit towards customers as well as a damage for producers.