Italian fashion house, Blufin S.p.A, has been in the news as of late after bringing a copyright infringement lawsuit against a fellow Italian design firm. Founded in 1977 by Anna Molinari and her late husband, Gianpaolo Tarabini, Blufin is best known for its brand Blumarine. The design house accused an unnamed design firm based in Naples, Italy of copying several of its designs and creating brand confusion. The case has been pending for several years, and last week, Judge Gabriella Ratti ruled in Blufin's favor, issuing an executive order requiring the defendant to immediately and permanently halt the sale of all infringing products. Further, Ratti ordered the defendant to buy back any infringing goods that were sold to stores.
While such an outcome would only likely result from copyright infringement stemming from the copying of another's print or pattern, the copyright laws in Italy vary quite a bit from those in the U.S. Italian copyright law, like French law, recognizes fashion design as art, thus extending protection to fashion design. To be copyrightable, the work must “have creative character or inherent artistic character.” As I mentioned, in the U.S., fashion designs are given a limited amount of protection. A designer may copyright an original pattern or print that is used on a garment, but a garment as a whole is not protected.