Legal Environment

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In this page: Business Contract | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework of Business | International Dispute Resolution


Business Contract

General Observation
You must define precisely the seller's obligations and the methods of quality control.
Law Applicable to the Contract
You must be particularly vigilant about the law applicable to contracts and the methods of conflict resolution. Italy has signed the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. The Italian legal system is not easy for a foreigner, so it is recommended that international laws be used or an arbitration system be called on.
Advisable Incoterms
Choose an incoterm FOB  or CIF or more. “CIP” – carriage and insurance paid to destination, is usually correct: see International Chamber of Commerce. Avoid EXW, if you do not want to be involved in organizing the transport inside Italy.
Language of Domestic Contract
Other Laws Which Can Be Used in Domestic Contracts
USA, England, Switzerland.

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Intellectual Property

National Organisations
Italian Bureau for Patents and Trademarks
Copyright SIAE (Italian Society for Authors and Editors).
Regional Organisations
Patent Protection: the European Patent Office
Governing trademarks, designs and models: the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office)
International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

National Regulation and International Agreements

Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
1939 Law on Patents
20 years Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
1939 Law on Models
10 years Trademark Law Treaty
Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
Law on Designs
15 years  
2000 Copyright Law
Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms
Rome ConventionFor the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations
WIPO Copyright Treaty
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
Industrial Models
1939 Law on Industrial Designs
15 years  

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Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
While there is no basis for de jure discrimination against foreigners, there are reports of de facto discrimination.
The Language of Justice
Legal Similarities
The Italian Civil Code was created on the basis of Roman law modified by the Napoleonic Code. It is also modeled on German law. The highest law is the Constitution.

The Different Legal Codes

Civil Code Regulates relations between private individuals
Penal Code Sets the limits of individual freedom and the penalties in case of breach of the law
Civil Procedure Code Establishes the rules for civil procedures.
Penal Procedure Code Establishes the rules for penal procedures.
Checking National Laws Online
Codes in Italian
Other Useful Resources
Ministry of Justice
EU Legal portal
Country Guides
Lexmundi, Guide to doing business in Italy: legal system.

The Jurisdictions

Supreme Court of Italy (Corte di Cassazione) Reviews the final decisions of the Courts of Appeal for civil and criminal issues.
Court of Appeal Second step of civil or criminal proceedings.
Tribunals First step of civil or criminal proceedings.
Council of State (Consiglio di Stato) Reviews the final decisions of the Regional Courts of Appeal for administrative issues.
Regional Administrative Courts (Tribunali Amministrativi Regionali) First step of administrative proceedings.
Constitutional Court (Corte Costituzionale) Examines legislation, settles disputes between the three powers (legislative, executive and judicial) and between the Republic and its regions.

Court Officials

Judge, Lawyer, Notary, Magistrate
Their role is equivalent to that of judges, lawyers, notaries and magistrates in other countries.

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International Dispute Resolution

This is a procedure provided for in the Civil Code which allows disputes to be settled by reaching a solution (lodo arbitrale) which can have the same value as a sentence of the first order.
Arbitration Law
Arbitration is governed by the Civil Procedure Code (artt. 806-840).
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules
Party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Party to the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses.
Party to the Geneva Convention of the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Appointment of Arbitrators
Arbitrators may be chosen by the parties or appointed by the Arbitration Council.
Arbitration Procedure
After hearing the parties, the arbitrators decide on a sentence which cannot be contested except in the explicit case of false evidence.
Permanent Arbitration Bodies
Venice Chamber of Arbitration (Sectors Covered: International Trade)
Milan Chamber of Arbitration (Sectors Covered: Civil and commercial controversies)
European Arbitration Chamber (Sectors Covered: International controversies)

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Latest Update: April 2024