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SARS CoV-2; può sempre considerarsi causa di forza maggiore?

Non è scontato che SARS CoV-2 possa essere automaticamente considerato una causa di forza maggiore: l’evento di forza maggiore va sempre verificato caso per caso, attraverso un accertamento giudiziario che ne valuti l’effettiva incidenza sul rapporto contrattuale.

IL FATTO

Premesso che non esiste, nelle fonti normative nazionali, una definizione esatta del concetto di “forza maggiore”, esso rappresenta tuttavia un principio generalmente e storicamente riconosciuto nei vari ordinamenti secondo cui qualora la prestazione di una parte diventi impossibile a causa di eventi imprevedibili al momento della conclusione del contratto ed estranei alla sfera di controllo del debitore, quest’ultimo si considera liberato dai propri impegni e la relativa obbligazione come estinta.

Nell’ambito della contrattualistica internazionale, le epidemie, così come le guerre e le catastrofi naturali, sono generalmente considerati eventi di forza maggiore.

L’emergenza di SARS-CoV-2 sta peraltro spingendo alcuni Paesi a fornire attestazioni ufficiali dell’evento di forza maggiore: è il caso della Cina (in cui sei camere di commercio sono state autorizzate a rilasciare certificati di “forza maggiore” a imprese in difficoltà a causa dell’epidemia), ma anche dell’Italia (in cui il D.L. 9/2020 qualifica ex lege l’epidemia come un evento di impossibilità sopravvenuta nell’ambito dei contratti di trasporto). Tali elementi andranno sicuramente a influenzare le decisioni dei giudici che si dovessero trovare ad affrontare la questione.

L’espressa previsione contrattuale o la configurabilità del virus SARS CoV-2 come causa di forza maggiore non determinano tuttavia automaticamente un’esenzione o una limitazione di responsabilità.

Il giudice infatti, nell’ambito della sua valutazione, prenderà in considerazione: i. come la causa di forza maggiore abbia effettivamente inciso sull’esecuzione dell’obbligazione; ii. gli obblighi stabiliti dal contratto e iii. il grado di diligenza adoperato dall’obbligato una volta verificatosi l’evento.

PERCHÉ È IMPORTANTE

La questione, invero, pone una serie di rilevanti problematiche giuridiche a cui non è possibile dare una risposta univoca. È verosimile, tuttavia, che l’epidemia possa essere considerata una causa di forza maggiore tale da sollevare da responsabilità la parte che non sia in grado di adempiere, ma il giudizio non potrà non tenere conto del contenuto del contratto in corso tra le parti, ovvero – in mancanza – delle norme della legge applicabile al rapporto, nonché del grado di diligenza in concreto richiesto al soggetto inadempiente.

Arbitration: the virtual hearing is the new normal

Abstract: the world of international arbitration responds to the challenge launched by Covid-19 and works to replace the hearing in presence with that held in virtual mode.

The remote hearing however cannot be fully compared to a normal virtual meeting: in order to lead the arbitration courts in this new reality, the most important international arbitration chambers have adopted ad hoc protocols and guidance notes.

Also thanks to the use of new cutting-edge technologies, specifically designed to meet the peculiarities of virtual hearing, such new hearing is proving to be a good solution, likely to be used even after the emergency period. However, despite the best precautions, it does not seem that this method can overcome the traditional one. The hope therefore is that, although in exceptional circumstances and with due precautions, the hearing in presence remains a possible alternative.

The commercial arbitral world has quickly adapted to the spread of the COVID-19 virus and considered the virtual hearings as the new normal.

The current impossibility of bringing together several people in the same room, or simply of traveling, affects one of the characteristics of the arbitration; the hearing in personal presence. That hearing that is not only an exchange of written documents, but also of looks, eyelashes that move, bodily movements that make us perceive nervous tics and veracity of texts, experts and experienced lawyers. However, the arbitral world reacts quickly and adapting to reality, instead of the traditional face-to-face hearing, uses the tool of videoconferencing.

The more subtle question however concerns the possibility of conducting a virtual hearing, with ad hoc rules and procedural sets, different from those of a normal videoconference. The topic caught the attention of the major institutions of the arbitration mode, which issued protocols and models to guide operators in carrying out the hearings remotely.

As acutely observed by fellow international arbitrators (Janet Walker in “Global Arbitration Review”, March 27, 2020), this is a change of perspective: from a logistical method to overcome temporary difficulties of one participant in the process, we move on to the need to define rules that make virtual hearing fair and correct.

In the case of a virtual hearing, especially in the discovery, one of the main concerns for all participants is, in addition to a certain widespread diffidence towards new technologies, the loss of control of the environment surrounding the witness or the expert in video connection. This with the risk that the statements made may not be genuine as they are somehow “influenced” by subjects in the room who have however escaped the webcam’s field of vision. As said, another fear is that the audio and video connection makes, especially in the cases of so-called cross examination, a filter for the emotions and attitudes of the witness, compromising the judges’  ability to evaluate the credibility of the statements made and the evidence.

This can partly be overcome thanks to the advent of new cutting-edge platforms, designed to meet these needs (see the services provided by Epiq https://www.epiqglobal.com/en-us and Opus https: // www. opus2.com/). Some features of these software are already present in instruments such as TEAMS or Skypebusiness, already used by the writers of this article, so it is possible to share video documents among the participants, who can then instantly see – for example – the documents on which it is examined the witness or to whom the expert refers (In some versions of Teams it is possible to proceed with the transcription of the hearing, with the possibility of displaying the dialogues between the parties as “subtitles” as well as translating them into different languages) . In the most advanced solutions there are devices with cameras capable of capturing 360 ° images, remotely controlled directly by the referees, which allow you to view the environment in which the witness or expert is placed. This instrumentation allows to overcome the concern that other subjects present in the room suggest the answers during the examination.

Moreover, important international Arbitration Bodies have recently issued regulatory notes to give a practical response to the needs just described, as an alternative to the adoption of more complete technological platforms and to respond to the immediate needs determined by Covid-19.

For example, the AAA – American Arbitration Association – has issued a model ordinance for use by the Arbitral Tribunals, containing some useful information for conducting videoconference hearings, with the possibility of adapting its content to the specific needs of the specific case. The document gives the arbitrators the power to indicate which is the best procedure to follow, placing the burden of providing a just reason why this solution would be unsustainable on the party opposing the virtual hearing. The AAA also provides that parties and the board can agree on the methods for transcribing / recording the hearing, prohibiting the parties and their counselors from using any other method of registration other than that agreed. Parties and lawyers will also have to make sure that any third party present in the connected audio-video room accepts the ban on recording the meeting. When it comes to how to execute the texts, the AAA identifies good precautionary rules to follow, also providing for the possibility for the college to inspect, through the webcam of the witness, the room in which it is physically located.

In line with the AAA, the ICC – International Chamber of Commerce – incentives 1) the adoption of all the measures that are deemed appropriate and / or the modification of the calendar of the procedure, after hearing (remotely) the parties; 2) identification of all issues that can only be dealt with on a documentary basis; 3)  the identification of issues that can be resolved without the oral hearing of witnesses or experts or on the basis of affidavits.

In the fast phase of adaptation of the institutions and of all of us to the new reality, for the time being it can be said that the virtual hearing cannot be considered completely overlapping with that in presence. For example, the institute of the cross examination – in which the witness, in a public hearing, is blocked by the strict logic of the lawyer who interrogates him before the College ready to grasp any slightest disturbance of his soul – could be emptied of meaning; it is clear that an interrogation “remotely”, where the witness is far from his examiner and conveniently placed in the home, would not have the same effect.

It appears inescapable that the virtual hearing, carried out in the manner indicated by the members of the international refereeing community, replaces, at least in the near future, the hearing in presence, becoming, especially in the context of international arbitration proceedings, the new normal.

However, we hope, always with due caution, to find ourselves in the same courtroom to better solve complex disputes, in other words,  at human arm’s length.

OPEN A COMPANY IN ITALY

Italy is a pillar of the European Union’s economy due to the large number of foreign investors it attracts every year. Italy has become a relevant business destination for both European investors, as well as for businessmen carrying investment activities outside European Union. It is also necessary to mention that in Italy, foreigners can easily become associated in a local business (as shareholders or directors), as there are no special requirements imposed in this sense.

WHAT ARE THE AVAILABLE TYPES OF COMPANIES IN ITALY?

One of the available company types that can be registered in Italy by foreign businessmen is the joint stock company (Società per Azioni, SPA), which is a type of entity that requires a larger capital, established at EUR 120,000; this business form is generally best suited for large companies.

As a general rule, most of the local and foreign investors prefer to register a limited liability company, the most popular business form chosen for incorporation in Italy and the European Union (EU). Considering most foreign enterprisers are interested in setting up small and medium sized companies in Italy, the business forms they can establish are:

 

  • limited liability company (Società a Responsabilità Limitata, SRL) – this business form requires a capital of EUR 1;
  • partnership limited by shares (Società in Accomandita per Azioni, SAPA) – set up by at least two business partners – one has unlimited liability, while the other has limited liability; at least one of the partners has to act as a general member;
  • general partnership (Società in Nome Collettivo, SNC) – the company can be set up by two partners, who can be natural persons or legal entities and, in this case, the partners assume full liability for the company’s debts;
  • limited partnerships (Società in Accomandita Semplice, SAS) – established by minimum two partners (a general partner and a limited partner);
  • cooperative (Società Cooperativa) – registered under the regulations provided by the Law 381;
  • sole proprietorship (Imprenditore Individuale) – a business form available for the investors who want to start a small business, with the mention that there is no legal distinction between the company and its investor.

Each type of company must be registered according to specific requirements. Among these are the share capital and the accounting requirements, on which our attorneys in Italy can offer in-depth assistance, depending on the business structure chosen for incorporation. Our attorneys can also assist investors in obtaining specific incorporation certificates. If you want to open a company in another country, such as Luxembourg, our lawyers can put you in touch with their local partners.

 

Which are the regulations related to the registration of a limited liability company in Italy?

 

The most common way to start a business in Italy refers to the incorporation of a limited liability company. Normally it is used the traditional limited liability company (società a responsabilità limitata- s.r.l).

 

WHAT ARE THE MAIN REQUIREMENTS TO OPEN A COMPANY IN ITALY?

 

When opening a company in Italy, the investors should know that the incorporation procedure can be completed in a fast manner, as the process can last approximately five working days. One of the highlights of the incorporation procedure in Italy points out that a foreign businessman can obtain a VAT (value added tax) number prior to the incorporation of the company, a regulation which is not applicable to other European jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom.

 

WHAT ARE THE MAIN COMPANY REGISTRATION PROCEDURES IN ITALY?

 

In order to register a company in Italy, several steps must be followed and they generally refer to the registration with the local authorities, notarizing the company’s documents with a local public notary, as well as registering for taxation matters. When opening a business in Italy, the investors should also take into consideration the following:

 

  • draft the company’s memorandum and articles of association and notarize them at a public notary in Italy;
  • deposit all the required documents with the Register of Enterprises in Italy;
  • buy corporate books and accounting books, as specified by the Article 2478 of the Italian Civil Code;
  • when hiring employees in Italy, it is necessary to register them with the Labor Office and to notify the institution each time when a new employee is hired (the notification has to be sent one day prior to starting the employment contract).

 

WHAT ARE THE MAIN REQUIREMENTS FOR INVESTORS DURING THE REGISTRATION PROCEDURE?

 

As a general rule, the company’s statutory documents can be modified depending on the investor’s business plans (however, this can only be done in accordance with the applicable legislation). In the case of a simplified limited liability company, the businessmen will not be allowed to include further provisions, as they are required to sign the standard model for the company’s articles of association.

 

Also, when notarizing the company’s documents, the investors will also need to sign an incorporation deed. Our team of Italian lawyers can offer legal assistance in this case. At the same time, our lawyers can represent the foreign investors in front of the Italian notary if they receive a power of attorney.

 

Together with the certificate of incorporation, the company will also receive a tax identification number and a VAT number. In Italy, all companies performing commercial activities are required to register for taxation purposes. At the moment, the Italian authorities apply a corporate tax at the rate of 24% (this is a newer rate, as in the past companies were imposed with a tax rate of 27%).

 

Once the company is registered, there are a few more steps to follow before commencing any business operations on the local market, such as the registration with the Social Security Administration and the Accident Insurance Office and our team of Italian lawyers can offer in-depth information on the documents that have to be submitted in this case.

 

HOW CAN A LAW FIRM IN ITALY ASSIST FOREIGN INVESTORS?

 

It is important to know that law firm in Italy can provide legal assistance on a wide range of legal matters that can be of interest for foreign businessmen. Lawyers can offer advice on the permits available for the investors who want to relocate on the Italian market and can provide full assistance on any matter concerning the business environment in Italy, such as:

 

  • assist local and foreign businessmen in drafting all the company’s relevant documents and, at the same time, the lawyers can represent the businessmen in these procedures;
  • register the company for taxation purposes and offer full assistance on the documents that are necessary in this case;
  • offer assistance on the procedure of opening a bank account (which can differ, depending on the bank with which the investor wants to collaborate);
  • assist on the commercial contracts that are established with other Italian companies;
  • obtain business permits which can be necessary for specific business activities;
  • assist on litigation cases, such as recovering a debt from a legal entity or a natural person;
  • advice on the intellectual property legislation and the registration of a trademark;
  • legal counselling on the Employment Law and the types of employment contracts that can be established with a future employee.

As mentioned earlier, investors who want to relocate in Italy for business purposes will need a residence permit, but the regulation is available only for the non-EU businessmen. In order to obtain this type of permit, it is necessary to apply at the Italian Consulate in the country in which the investor is a resident, prior to relocating in this country.

DOES AN INVESTOR NEED BUSINESS PERMITS IN ITALY?

Depending on the business activities developed in Italy, businessmen will need to obtain special permits and licenses, issued by the relevant authorities. Businesses that operate in a traditional office will need to obtain a fire safety license, provided by the local fire department.

 

When building a construction project in Italy, the company’s representatives will also need a building permit. If the company is involved in the catering sector, it is compulsory to obtain a health safety license for the premises, as well as for the company’s employees who are handling food products.

 

CAN INVESTORS RECEIVE LEGAL ASSISTANCE ON COMPANY LIQUIDATION IN ITALY?

Yes,  law firm in Italy can easily assist foreign and local investors with advice and legal representation during the liquidation procedure of a company, which can be employed due to a set of reasons. One of the ways to close a company in Italy is by voluntary liquidation, which refers to a legal procedure requested by the company’s shareholders.

This method is usually selected by the investors when they observe a massive decline in the company’s revenues, with no possibility of restoring the financial capacity of the company; it can also be requested in the situation in which the shareholders no longer want to activate in a given business sector or if they simply consider that they do not need to run a business.

Closing a company in Italy can also be started through compulsory liquidation and, as it name suggests, it represents a binding procedure, that is generally requested by an Italian court. The main reason that determines the need of compulsory liquidation is given by a large amount of debts that can’t be paid by the respective company.

 

TAX ADVICE FOR ITALIAN BUSINESSES

As a general rule, a company is liable to taxation in Italy provided that it was set up in this country or if it carries its business operations here through a permanent establishment.

A business is liable to corporate tax, capital gains tax, dividend tax and withholding taxes applicable to royalties, interest and others. At the same time, it is liable for taxation on the income of the company’s employees, and thus, it needs to register for social security. Investors must also know that mergers and acquisitions are also imposed with a substitutive tax on reorganization, applicable in specific conditions.

For information related to the business start-up costs or other corporate services, you may refer to our Italian law firm.

My Italian Lawyer at CUOA trendtopics

https://youtu.be/jeqV4qHFP7o

carloscarpacuoa

 


Carlo Scarpa and Nicola Spadafora talk about ” the Horn of Africa” at  CUOA’s “Geopolitical TrendTopics”, together with journalism and diplomacy representatives. #trendstopicscuoa #mycuoa #tonucciepartners #mylegalife #hornofafrica                 

For a complete view of the event participants go to https://www.cuoaspace.it/2019/03/se-la-cornice-cambia-il-valore-del-dipinto.html

 

Licensing And Franchising

People often assume that the difference between these two terms matters little, yet if you get it wrong you could be exposing your business to fines in some jurisdictions. Before explaining this let’s just briefly consider what the two terms mean.

Franchising
Franchising is a way to scale a business once it is successful and proven.
A well-known example of a business that has grown through franchising is McDonald’s.
Franchising involves finding people who want to operate a business using your successful formula. To become franchisees they need to have the basic skills and experience to operate branches of your business. The franchisor provides training in how to operate the business using its proven systems and processes.

You can franchise almost any type of business. With a franchise, the franchisor (owner) is in control of the brand and training. It licenses (that is, grants permissions to) the franchisee to use the brand and other intellectual property and know-how to operate its successful business model.
In exchange, the franchisee puts up the initial capital for the business, pays a licence fee and strictly adheres to the established ways of running the business stipulated by the franchisor’s operations manuals. The franchisee helps to promote the brand and expects to have a successful business by virtue of following a successful proven path. The franchisor provides support to its franchisees in the form of marketing, suppliers, systems, training and other resources and skills.
Licensing of intellectual property (IP) is at the heart of a franchise contract. So, in fact, a franchise includes licensing. This is a term that simply means granting of permission to others to use the owner’s know-how and other confidential information, trademarks, logos and designs, and copyright materials. For some businesses, there may be patents, too.

An essential element of a franchise (and one of the features that distinguishes it from a straight licence) relates to the formalities involved in setting up a franchise, and the degree of control the franchisor retains.
A franchise agreement will usually give the franchisor the ability to control how the business is run. The franchisee must so closely follow the established processes and systems that if a customer visits their branch of McDonald’s they will find the familiar service they are used to. They would not be disappointed or be subjected to unpleasant surprises. Even the slightest deviation in the business format could damage the franchisor’s brand, not just that particular outlet. For that reason, franchise agreements contain strict quality control provisions.

Licensing
The essence of licensing is the granting of permissions by the owner to a third party to use some or all its Intellectual Property.
Often when people just want to licence their business rather than go through the formality of franchising, they find their own business arrangements based loosely around franchising. Or they might impose the same controls as a typical franchising deal but want to escape the regulations imposed on franchising by calling it licensing.
This is where it’s important to take care to find out what the laws of the country in which you’re making your arrangements have to say. Otherwise, you could expose yourself to fines. In the USA it can prove expensive if you attempt to pass off what is essentially franchising as licensing.

As in all areas of legal life, it’s not what you call something that matters, but what it amounts to in substance.
Coaching businesses typically scale by using licensing. For example, an organisation becomes known and successful for coaching a particular group of people. The owner of the business has more coaching enquiries than they can deal with, so they licence other individuals to coach customers using their methodology and processes. This is in truth a species of franchising.
The father of modern franchising was the inventor of the sewing machine, Isaac Singer. He sold licences to entrepreneurs to sell his machines in different parts of the USA. He also offered training in the use of the machines. In this case, the IP licensed was a patent, brand name and know how. Strictly, this was licensing, but it is so similar to what we think of franchising today that that is why Singer is considered to be the father of franchising.

Brand Licensing
Brand licensing is what licensing is essentially about. True licensing enables you to make income from various types of intellectual property – your know how, ideas, creative output, reputation, patents, trademarks, designs, and so on if you have something that others want to license from you.
Take business format arrangements. These use licensing at their core. So, for example a car wash develops a successful process for get its customers to opt for hot wax and other optional extras. It licenses that process to other car wash businesses in return for royalties. These might be payments each month to use its way of promoting the wax, so that more customers buy it. In this example, the IP being licensed is “know how”. This wouldn’t amount to franchising.
If you have built up a brand name, and want to licence third parties to use the name or to deliver a related product under your brand name that’s true licensing. So, a successful fashion designer might license a perfume manufacturer to create a perfume range for its label.
Luxury brands are highly sought after for licensing, as their brand brings a cachet to the product to which they lend their name. But brands should beware of veering too far away from their market or offering licences too liberally. Pierre Cardin is a classic example of this. By engaging in indiscriminate licensing, it devalued its brand and lost much of its cachet.

Conclusion
There is a world of difference between licensing and franchising.
Any “licensing” deal that is so close to franchising that it blurs the boundary between the two is in truth franchising given another name. Do make sure the country in which you are making the arrangements doesn’t regulate franchising though, as it could cause you problems.
Apart from that, by all means if you want to work towards franchising by calling an arrangement “licensing” it might be a way to try out the model out with a few trusted sources and being less prescriptive. Then, rather than diving straight into franchising, with all the due diligence and formalities that it entails, you could start by finding a few licensees who are willing to license some or all of your business model.
The important thing is to protect your IP. Your brand, patents, know-how, trademarks etc. are precious assets, which should not be shared casually. The terms on which you grant licences or franchises need to be carefully considered.

If you want help as you’re setting up your new brand or want to refresh your existing brand do contact us to find out about the various ways we can help.

Il CROWDFUNDING finanzia le PMI e il Real Estate

L’Equity Crowdfunding è una pratica utile al finanziamento di start-up innovative e PMI che sta crescendo sempre più in Italia. Il crowdfunding è la possibilità di raccogliere capitali mediante portali internet il cui accesso è aperto al pubblico. L’equity crowdfunding è la possibilità di raccogliere capitali di partecipazione mediante i portali digitali autorizzati. La legge permette anche la raccolta da parte di PMI per progetti di Real Estate.

IL FATTO

L’equity crowdfunding, con solo cinque anni di storia, è una pratica relativamente nuova nel nostro ordinamento ma, come documentano i dati dell’ Osservatorio Crowdfunding del Politecnico di Milano e l’infografica di money.it, ha numeri in crescita. Da questa analisi emerge che dalla nascita dell’istituto ad oggi,  il totale di capitale di rischio raccolto è pari a 27.391.730€;  25 i portali autorizzati; 205 le offerte pubblicate di cui più della metà (64,4%) chiuse con successo; 164 le startup e 16 le PMI innovative che hanno promosso le offerte; 218.159€ il target medio di raccolta; 65,9 il numero medio di finanziatori per ogni campagna.

Con il Regolamento CONSOB finalmente pubblicato agli inizi del 2018, in applicazione della finanziaria 2017, vi è anche la possibilità di finanziare le PMI con questa metodologia. Infatti tale Regolamento permette la applicazione del Dl 50/2017 (articolo 59, comma 1) che  dispone  una deroga al previo divieto, previsto dal Codice civile, che vale per la raccolta attraverso portali . Oltre a prevedere la deroga, il Dl 50/2017 stabilisce che lo statuto delle PMI può creare categorie di quote che si differenziano in base ai diritti loro riconosciuti e che non sono vietate le operazioni sulle proprie partecipazioni se si tratta di assegnare quote a lavoratori

La possibilità oggi offerta, sia alle Start-Up sia alle PMI, di trovare nuovi investitori con quella che è una procedura che passa per un portale elettronico autorizzato CONSOB, apre nuovi spazi organizzativi e legali e pone interessanti quesiti applicativi. Infatti, oltre al possibile adeguamento degli statuti delle PMI che vorranno usare le opportunità offerte dalla normativa,  si prevede che aumenterà anche la domanda di patti tra soci, per garantire la governance della società. Oltre a ciò, le start-up innovative, ma ora anche i nuovi soggetti autorizzati, come le PMI e le società di Real Estate, potranno  necessitare  di assistenza specialistica contrattualistica in settori di IP e di commercio, anche internazionale.

PERCHE’ E’ IMPORTANTE

Lo sviluppo dell’Equity Crowdfunding è stato favorito dalla  difficoltà che le imprese hanno nell’accedere al credito.  Tramite questo modello il socio-finanziatore acquisisce titoli partecipativi al capitale d’impresa che decide di  finanziare.

Va ricordato che l’Italia è stata il primo paese a emettere una legislazione per questa tipologia di Crowdfunding e grazie a un regolamento emanato da Consob è possibile gestire autorizzate piattaforme di Equity Crowdfunding che possono pubblicare campagne di raccolta di capitale di qualificate Piccole e Medie Imprese.

La suola Rosso Piccione di Louboutin è un marchio valido.

Lo scorso 12 giugno 2018 la Corte di giustizia dell’Unione europea (CGUE) si é pronunciata a favore della validità del marchio di suole rosso di Christian Louboutin (causa C-163/16). La decisione arriva dopo anni di contenzioso tra Louboutin e la società olandese di calzature Van Haren.

IL FATTO

Christian Louboutin è un designer francese, le cui scarpe vengono vendute almeno ad euro 500 a paio e le cui creazioni sono indossate da donne famose, come Rihanna e Melania Trump.

Nel 2010, il designer ha ottenuto un marchio Benelux consistente “nel colore rosso (Pantone 18 1663TP) applicato alla suola di una scarpa […] (il contorno della scarpa non fa parte del marchio ma è destinato a mostrare il posizionamento del marchio)”. Nel 2013, la registrazione è stata modificata per coprire solo scarpe con tacco alto.

Nel 2012, la catena di calzature olandese Van Haren iniziava a vendere scarpe da donna con tacco alto e suole rosse. Christian Louboutin avviava un procedimento per violazione del marchio davanti al Tribunale distrettuale dell’Aja, sempre in Olanda, in quale ne accoglieva parzialmente le domande. Van Haren opponeva la decisione contestando la validità del marchio suola rossa di Louboutin.

Il Tribunale dell’Aja, dal momento che, ai sensi dell’articolo 3, paragrafo 1, lettera e), punto iii), della direttiva CE 2008/95 CE, é impedita la registrazione di marchi di forma qualora il segno sia costituito esclusivamente dalla forma che dà un valore sostanziale al prodotto, chiedeva alla CGUE se l’articolo 3, paragrafo 1, lettera e), iii), della citata direttiva vada interpretato nel senso che un segno consistente in un colore applicato sulla suola di una scarpa con tacco alto, come quello oggetto di controversia, debba ritenersi costituito esclusivamente dalla “forma”, ai sensi di detta disposizione.

La Sentenza

La CGUE arriva a escludere che il marchio Louboutin rientri nell’impedimento dell’articolo 3, paragrafo 1, lettera e), punto iii), della direttiva in quanto ritiene che esso non sia costituito esclusivamente dalla forma. La Corte, dapprima, ha precisato per “forma”, nel contesto del diritto dei marchi, vada inteso un insieme di linee o di contorni che delimita il prodotto in questione nello spazio, altresì rilevando come, né nella direttiva 2008/95, né dalla giurisprudenza della Corte, né dal senso usuale di questo termine risulta che un colore in sé, senza delimitazione nello spazio, possa costituire una forma. Ha, poi, proseguito, osservando che, se è pur vero che la forma del prodotto o di una parte del prodotto svolge un ruolo nella delimitazione del colore nello spazio, non si può ritenere, tuttavia, che un segno sia costituito da tale forma qualora non sia la forma quel che la registrazione del marchio è intesa a tutelare, ma solo l’applicazione di un colore su una parte specifica del prodotto stesso. Il marchio controverso non verte su una forma specifica di suola di scarpa con tacco alto, in quanto la descrizione di detto marchio indica espressamente che il contorno della scarpa non fa parte del marchio stesso, ma serve unicamente a mettere in evidenza la posizione del colore rosso cui si riferisce la registrazione. In definitiva, non può ritenersi che un segno come quello oggetto del procedimento principale sia costituito “esclusivamente” dalla forma, ove, come nella specie, l’oggetto principale di questo segno sia un colore precisato mediante un codice di identificazione riconosciuto a livello internazionale. La Corte, pure discostandosi dalla recente raccomandazione dell’avvocato generale, ha quindi deciso che Louboutin non stava cercando di proteggere la forma di una scarpa, ma piuttosto l’applicazione di un colore a una parte specifica di essa. Se l’elemento principale di un segno è un colore specifico designato da un codice di identificazione riconosciuto a livello internazionale, tale segno non può essere considerato come consistente “esclusivamente” di una forma.

PERCHÉ È IMPORTANTE

Il caso tornerà ora di fronte al tribunale Olandese che aveva chiesto l’intervento della CGUE. Sembra probabile che Louboutin possa, a questo punto, sviluppare una sorta di monopolio per le scarpe col tacco alto e la suola rosso piccione. Peraltro, non si deve dimenticare che, in una diversa lite, una Corte americana aveva concesso allo stesso designer francese tutela distintiva solo se il colore della suola “stacca” da quello del resto della scarpa.Cosa possono fare i concorrenti. Se il colore rosso piccione della suola è diventato un segno iconico del designer francese, nulla vieta di caratterizzare le suole delle calzature con altri colori, che siano chiaramente identificabili con un codice internazionale pantone. Potremmo, quindi, d’ora innanzi assistere al proliferare delle registrazioni di marchio di un colore identificativo di suole, come d’altro canto è avvenuto per caratterizzare  prodotti in  altri settori produttivi.Da ultimo, si ricorda come la sentenza della CGUE riguardi la direttiva CE 2008/95, che è stata successivamente sostituita dalla direttiva 2015/2436/CE. L’impatto di tale decisione non è ancora chiaro sulla nuova formulazione della normativa; infatti, la precedente versione dell’articolo 3, paragrafo 1, lettera e), punto iii) includeva la dicitura “la forma che dà un valore sostanziale ai prodotti”, mentre la nuova versione vede aggiunta la dicitura “o un’altra caratteristica” dopo la parola “forma”.

Davide e Golia today

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#lawgoodresult Quando il Tuo vecchio fornitore di energia ti scrive che hai sbagliato disdetta, può diventare un incubo per l’imprenditore. Se sei una PMI tecnologica come SITEL, http://www.sitelpcb.it/, che usa energia per stampare schede per circuiti elettronici e il fornitore, poi, ti notifica un decreto ingiuntivo per parecchie migliaia di euro, l’Imprenditore non la prende bene. Nemmeno io la prendo bene e per SITEL ci opponiamo. #mylegalife Apparentemente una lotta contro Golia, ma è andata a finire che SITEL aveva ragione ad opporsi. La conclusione: un accordo di rinuncia totale alla domanda del Gestore Energy. SITEL è felice di aver risolto un problema e io di aver contribuito, con il mio #legalteam, al buon fine della storia. #lawgoodresult

New share capital limits for Italian joint-stock companies

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Italian new legislation has reduced the previous limits of minimum capitalization for joint-stock company, allowing those who want to invest to build a S.P.A. (joint –stock company) with only € 50,000 of capital. With this new legislation the Italian Government wanted to help the growth of the Spa, seen as a preferred vehicle for raising equity or debt capital.

The fact

Article 20, co. 7 of Decree Law 91/2014 amended Article. 2327 cc which provides the minimum capital required to establish a Spa. Today the necessary capital is EUR 50,000.00, instead of EUR 120,000.00, which was the previous limit.

The legislator with this intervention wanted mitigate the phenomenon by which start-up entrepreneurs usually prefer the form of Ltd than a  S.p.A.. The reason of such new  political decision is that nowadays  SPA has become the reference model for access to the capital market and risk.

The new rule, which reduces the minimum share capital necessary to build a SPA (Joint Stock Companies)  companies.  Such type of companies, in the view of the Government, are better suited than smaller SRL (Ltd) to collect market risk capital and debt capital.

It is important

The setting of  the new limit of the minimum capital of the Spa also has had immediate consequences on the articles of association of existing companies, with the possibility for the shareholders to proceed with a reduction of share capital within above limits . In particular the shareholders of  Spa, with share capital of EUR 120,000.00, could decide a voluntary reduction of the share capital. Obviously such a decision must not be opposed by  company’s creditors.

Beside the above,  thanks to the new standard , existing S.p.A. who have suffered losses that diminish the existing capital at a level of less than € 50,000.00 are not anymore  required, to recapitalize in full to ” prior social capital”. In fact the shareholders  could limit the recapitalization of the share capital to EUR 50,000.00 .