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International Review of Industrial Property and Copyright Law




On February 25, 2000, the Italian Government adopted Legislative Decree No. 67, which enacted Directive 97/55/EC amending Directive 84/450/EEC concerning misleading advertising, so as to include comparative advertising. Contrary to what one could have expected in a country that has traditionally banned comparison in advertisements, Italy was one of the first among the Member States to implement Directive 97/55/EC. In order to allow consistent enforcement practices, however, the adoption of the new law must be followed by a profound change in the ways Italian courts and legal operators have approaches this issue so far. This Article explores this issue and addresses the following question: can comparative advertising, whenever it is truthful and fair, be finally declared admissible under Italian law as a result of the adoption of Legislative Decree 67/2000 — that is to say, will the criterion that has distinguished the issue in the past, according to which comparative advertising appeared inevitably to discredit competitors, continue to thwart, in practice, its declared lawfulness? First, the Article describes the traditional approach of Italian law on the issue of comparative advertising. Next, this Article considers how the Italian Government implemented Directive 97/55/EC into national law. Finally, this Article examines the first decisions adopted under the new law to draw some conclusions as to whether consistent enforcement practices can now be possible in Italy. Considering the traditional importance of the Italian self-regulatory system, the Article also refers, whenever it is necessary, to the relevant provisions of the Italian Self-Regulation Advertising Code.

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