Trademark and patent terms

Intellectual property terms and their meaning

Trademark and patent terms


Assignment (industrial property rights)

A contractual agreement whereby the owner of a trademark or a patent assigns its permanent proprietary rights to a third party.


The set of moral and proprietary rights due to the authors of works of a creative or intellectual type such as literature, music, visual arts, architecture, theatre, film, and software.

Distinctive signs

The signs are capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking/entrepreneur by products/services of another business/entrepreneur: trademark, company name or business name, domain name and insignia company.

Domain name

The domain name is a sequence of letters and/or numbers, which are combined by users and assigned to a website.

Domestic industrial designs

Represent an industrial property entitlement which legally protects industrial designs in individual nations.

Domestic patent

An industrial property entitlement whereby the holder enjoys exclusive rights over an invention for a fixed period and limited to the national territory.

Domestic trademark

An industrial property entitlement that legally protects distinctive signs of products and/or services on national territory.

EC industrial designs

Represent a unitary industrial property entitlement that protects industrial designs in all EU member states.

EC trademark

An industrial property entitlement that legally protects distinctive signs of products and/or services in EU member states. This trademark is registered at OHIM, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market.

EPO - European Patent Office

The office tasked with receiving and examining applications for European patents. The Web address is:

European patent

This is a family of domestic patents obtained following a unified examination procedure performed by the European Patent Office. The holder of a European patent owns all rights to the domestic patent in each of the States in which the European patent has actually been validated.

Genericide (of a trademark)

The genericide is when the trademark has become a generic trade name for a product and/or service, thereby losing its distinctive capacity (which is a requirement that the trademark should always have). This phenomenon occurs when the registered mark has been widely used, for any length of time, in the market for all products of the same kind (for example, “hoover”). Genericide leads to the revocation of the trademark.

Industrial designs

The set of (two-dimensional or three-dimensional) features relating to the shape, structure, lines, contours, colours, materials, and decoration of an industrial or artisanal item. The term can also include components to be assembled (in the case of complex products), graphics, typefaces, and packaging.

Industrial property

An expression that includes all the rights that afford legal protection to intellectual activities related to the commercial-production sphere, in particular: patents for inventions and utility models, trademarks and other distinctive signs, industrial designs, topographies of semiconductor products, new flora varieties, geographical indications, designations of origin, confidential business information.

Infringement (trademark or patent)

The infringement by a third party of the exclusive rights conferred by a trademark or a patent. This may occur, for example, in the case of production, import or sale of products covered by a patent or bearing a registered trademark without the consent of the holder.

Intellectual property

An expression that encompasses both the Industrial Property in the strict sense and works protected by copyright laws. Sometimes the term is used in a restricted and totally distinct manner from Industrial Property, referring exclusively to copyright legislation.

International industrial designs

Represent an industrial property entitlement that via a single application protects industrial designs in various countries that have signed international treaties on international industrial designs. These countries include Italy, Switzerland, and the European Union as a whole.

International trademark

An industrial property entitlement that legally protects distinctive signs of products and/or services in countries that have signed the Madrid Agreement and/or the Madrid Protocol for the international registration of trademarks. International trademark registration is granted by WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization.


An original new solution to a technical problem. A patent will be issued only if the invention is new and inventive compared to what already exists.

License (trademark or patent)

A contractual arrangement whereby the owner of a trademark or a patent (the licensor) authorizes another person (licensee) to exploit the protected object (s) or registered trademark. In general, the contract provides that the licensee pays a fee (royalty) to the licensor.

OHIM - Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market

The UE’s official authority that deals with the procedures relating to the registration of EC trademarks and industrial designs. The Web address is:

Opposition (to assignment of a European patent)

It is a procedure that can be initiated by anyone who wishes to obtain total or partial revocation of a European patent granted to a third party by the European Patent Office. The opposition procedure is valid in all countries where the European patent was effectively nationalized and can be initiated within nine months from the patent being granted.

Opposition (to registration of a trademark)

An administrative procedure initiated by the owner of a trademark registered with the Italian Patent and Trademark Office to prevent assignment in the event of a breach of industrial property rights, for instance identical or similar trademarks for identical or similar products, or lack of registration authorization from rightholders in the case of portraits of people, well-known names and signs. The opposition is an administrative procedure that takes place before the Italian Patent and Trademark Office under which holders of existing exclusive rights may ask the Office to reject subsequent conflicting trademark applications.

PCT international patent application

This is a single patent application that allows designation of over 140 countries that have signed the PCT – Patent Cooperation Treaty. The international patent application is managed by the World Industrial Property Organization and does not allow for single patent having value in all designated countries to be obtained. Indeed, some time after filing, patent applications must be submitted in the countries of actual interest, which will depend on basic international demand, but will follow their own independent patenting process. The international application, compared to direct domestic filing, however, is significantly simplified with regard to the formal actions for each country and gives applicants more time to evaluate carefully in which countries they actually wish to protect their invention.

Register of patents and trademarks

The database of the Italian Patent and Trademark Office that collects information relating to applications for industrial property rights filed in Italy.

UIBM – Italian Patent and Trademark Office

The office of the Ministry of Economic Development tasked with the filing and examination of trademarks, patents and industrial designs in Italy. The Web address is:

Utility models

A special type of patent that protects new products that confer special effectiveness or ease of application or use. The utility model is only considered in some countries. The Italian system considers the utility model, which ensures ten years of protection for the patented object.

WIPO – World Intellectual Property Organization

The special United Nations agency that is tasked with promoting intellectual property globally and managing the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol for the international trademark registration, and the Locarno Agreement Establishing an International Classification for Industrial Designs. The Web address is: