What is a trademark

A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device which is used in trade with goods to distinguish them from the goods of others.
All new signs that can be represented graphically can be registered as trademark, especially words, including personal names, drawings, letters, numbers, sounds, the shape of products or of packageof products, chromatic combinations and tones, as long as they can distinguish the products or services of a specific company from other companies.

Trademarks are registered for one or more classes in relation to the products and services to be distinguished. In case of conflict, the owner of a trademarks with earlier registration has a priority right against those who register and/or use an identical trademark or a trademark that can be confused with the earlier trademark.

In order to be in conflict two trademarks must be registered and/or used in relation to the same goods. Based on this principle the law admits the amiably coexistence of trademarks that designate different goods even if they are totally similar.
The Italian law in force allows for the registration of "individual" and collective trademarks.

"Individual" trademarks are used to distinguish products or services of a specific company.

"Collective" trademarks can be registered by those subjects (natural or legal persons) in charge of guaranteeing the origin, nature or quality of products or services, it being provided that collective trademarks can be used by different subjects other than the owner of the registration, who are somehow related to him. For example, this is the case when a trademark is registered by a consortium and then used by all companies belonging to it.

The Italian law grants a protection, although a limited one, to unregistered trademarks, the so-called common-law trademarks.
Owners of common-law trademarks are granted a prior-use right, which allows them to continue using the trademark, even in the presence of registration by others of the same sign, within the territorial and product limitations of the prior-use right.
Another weak point of factual trademarks is represented by the difficulties of probative nature that are often encountered when trying to indicate the exact date of prior-use.
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