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September 1, 2015 Vol. 70 No. 15 Back to Bulletin Main Page

ITALY: Landlord Held Liable in Counterfeiting Case

The recent judgment No. 22/2015, issued by the Court of Genoa, has notably ruled that a landlord was liable for the crime of aiding and abetting, as provided for by Article 379 of the Criminal Code, in a case of counterfeiting.

The case involved a situation in which the defendants had rented their properties to third parties who had used them to undertake activities of production, custody and selling of goods with counterfeited trademarks, and where the landlords were aware of the illicit business carried out on their properties. 

Genoa’s Court accused not only those who were liable pursuant to Articles 474 and 648 of the Criminal Code—counterfeiting and fencing—but also those who, aware of the illicit business, did not terminate the lease agreement with the tenants.

Pursuant to Article 379 of the Criminal Code, the crime of aiding and abetting is committed when any party engages in behaviors suited to assure someone else the product, the profit or the price of the crime previously committed.

The party is liable through action or omission as far as the party was conscious of the illicit activity that was taking place thanks to the party’s action or inaction.

In this case, the defendants failed to terminate the contract despite being aware that a crime was being committed on their properties.

In the judgment, the Court held that the defendants’ awareness was evidenced by the seizures of goods carried out on the properties in addition to the many notices and communications issued by the competent authorities in order to terminate the lease agreement.

However, despite the said notices, and the expiry of a considerable period of time, the defendants did not comply with the authorities’ orders.

The Court thereby held that this behavior met the elements of crime provided for by Article 379 of the Criminal Code because the circumstances under which the defendants acted were aimed to ensure unjustified benefits to those persons who perpetrate the crimes of counterfeiting and fencing.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2015 International Trademark Association