Trademarks are distinctive signs which guarantee the origin of a product and/or service (in which case they are also known as service marks), ensuring the general public knows which specific business a product or service comes from.
A trademark brings exclusive rights to those who register it and prevents third parties using other signs which are confusingly similar to advertise or sell identical or similar goods. A trademark allows consumers to identify the origin of a product while also guaranteeing that this is where the product comes from.
There are various kinds of marks, including individual and collective trademarks and certification marks. Individual trademarks are used to distinguish a specific product and/or service within a market, giving its owner exclusive right of use of the mark; collective trademarks and certification marks, meanwhile certify the origin or certain qualities of a category of goods and/or services, and are granted to entities in charge of guaranteeing these aspects, such as consortia, for example.
These marks can consist not only of alphanumeric combinations (i.e. words, letters and numbers), images, or drawings, but also of sounds, the shape or form of the product or of its packaging, as well as combinations or colour shades and tones.
The territory within which the mark is granted protection may be extended at any time. The protection can therefore be national, i.e. limited to Italy or to another country, or it can be broadened to cover various countries by registration for an international trademark with the WIPO in Geneva or a for European Union trademark with the EUIPO in Alicante.
Trademark registration has a duration of ten years, after which the registration can be renewed for further ten-year periods.