In a recent decision, the Court of Rome ruled on an unfair competition case between two wines guides "Bibenda" (published by Bibenda Editore) and "Vitae" owned by AIS (the Italian Sommelier Association). The Court found relevant similitudes both relating to the physical format of the Guide and the descriptions of companies and wine production data, and "strong elements of consistency in the sequence of arguments".
Immediately after the interruption of a collaboration between the two parties, AIS began to distribute a new Wine Guide to its members, called "Vitae", but it appeared to the authors of "Bibenda" too similar, under a multiplicity of points of view, to the one created by them according to well-defined editorial criteria. Criteria which, according to the judgment, are sufficiently similar to those adopted by Ais for "Vitae". For this reason the Court upheld Bibenda Editore's requests and stopped the publication of future editions of "Vitae". Ais was also sentenced to pay damages (still to be quantified) in favor of Bibenda Editore.
According to the judgment of the Court "an analysis of the guide published by the defendant (AIS) shows significant similarities with the Bibenda’s Guide in relation to the volume size, the material used for the cover, the binding and the fonts used and the format.
Significant similarities can be found in company descriptive descriptions, in both guides, with the same sequence and within an identical structural context and according to a common graphical presentation, data relating to company name, address, internet site, mail address, year of foundation, property, bottles produced, vineyards, direct sales, company visits, introductory part, name wine, typology, grapes, alcohol content, price, bottles produced, tasting, winemaking and matching.
It is also common to evaluate products with symbols placed on the right side of the pages.
As already noted, the two guides have strong similar elements in the sequence of arguments (...) ". On the basis of these arguments, the Court of First Instance upheld Bibenda’s claim and prevented the Italian Sommelier Association from publishing Vitae's guidebook unless significant adjustments would be made to substantially differentiate it from Bibenda's guide.