On March 13, 2020, the Legislative Decree (the Decree) no. 16 of March 11, 2020, containing “Urgent provisions for the organization and holding of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games Milan Cortina 2026 and the ATP [Association of Tennis Professionals] Finals Turin 2021‒2025, as well as a ban on parasitic advertising” was published in the Italian Official Journal. The Decree, which came into effect on March 14, 2020, strengthens the regulatory framework on ambush marketing and protection of well-known marks in the sports field. It was published among other provisions related to the organization of national and international sporting events (the Events) that will take place in Italy as early as 2020.
The new provisions specifically prohibit the following, in the period of 90 days before and 90 days after the Events (Art. 11 of the Decree):
- The creation of an indirect link between a trademark or other distinguishing signs and one of the Events capable of misleading the public about the identity of the official sponsors;
- Misrepresentation in advertising of being an official sponsor;
- Promotion of trademarks or other distinctive signs by any unauthorized conduct capable of generating in the public the erroneous impression that the perpetrator of the conduct is sponsoring the Events; and
- The sale and advertising of products or services illegally marked, even in part, with the logo of the Event or with other distinctive signs capable of misleading and creating a connection with the Events or their organizers. Art. 10 of the Decree.
Violations will be punished with an administrative fine from €100,000 up to €2.5 million. Art. 12 of the Decree. This is in addition to any fines payable under other applicable laws. Art. 13 of the Decree.
The Decree, however, exempts activities in execution of contracts for sponsorship concluded with individual athletes, teams, artists, or authorized participants in any of the Events. Art. 10.3 of the Decree. This is in line with the relaxation of Rule 40.3 of the Olympic Charter by the International Olympic Committee.
Finally, the Decree modifies Article 8(3) of the Italian Code of Intellectual Property by adding “images reproducing trophies” among the marks which can be registered only by the rights holder or with its consent. Art. 14 of the Decree.
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