Generally speaking, the easier are the regulations concerning territorial competence, the better is for the efficiency of the legal system.
The Italian lawmaker took therefore the right direction in 2003, when IP litigations were concentrated before 12 specialized courts, namely Bari, Bologna, Catania, Firenze, Genova, Milano, Napoli, Palermo, Roma, Torino, Trieste and Venezia. The list has some glitches; for example, there are two specialized sections in Sicily, a region with a very limited amount of IP litigation, and none in Sardinia.
However the limited number of Specialized Sections was a value per se, which contributed to make Italian IP litigation faster and more reliable.
In 2012 these results were put at risk by the decision to merge the IP Specialized Sections in the new Company Courts, to be instituted in the may city of each region.
Italy has 20 regions; we however ended up with a different number of IP specialized sections, as some of the original 12 sections were not located in the main city of the corresponding region; furthermore an IP section was constituted in Brescia, a city near Milan located in the middle of an important industrial district.
The result was 21 fora, some of which destined to actually deal with a very small amount of IP cases.
Not the best solution, probably.
The lawmaker decided therefore to further change the system. For the worst.
With Law Decree No 145 of 23 December 2013, confirmed by Law No. 9 of 21 February 2014, the number of courts competent to deal with IP matters increased, with the addition of Trento and Bolzano.
Furthermore, the system now provides that in case the defendant is a foreign company, the case must be brought before one of nine main courts, namely Bari, Cagliari, Catania, Genova, Milano, Napoli, Roma, Torino and Venice.
As you can see, this list does not correspond to the list of the original 9 IP Specialized Sections. Now Sardinia is included, with Cagliari, but one of the most important courts of Italy, the Bologna court, was deleted.
This blog is not the right venue to carry out a detailed critics of these new provisions, that add a layer of complication to IP litigations involving foreign defendants. That said, for sure we did not need this kind of provisions, and it is well possible that the law is sooner or later scrutinized by the Constitutional Court.
We will keep you posted on further developments; meanwhile some extra attention should be dedicated to the determination of the correct forum for IP litigation.