The Unique Italian Vespa


The Court of Turin has recently ruled that a Vespa’s shape is a creative and artistic work, protected as an industrial design, and that it can not be copied. In these terms the judges issued an historic ruling which, for the first time, awards the exclusive right to commercialize the timeless Vespa on the Italian market. It all began in 2013 at the EICMA, the Milan motorcycle expo, where the Police seized eleven scooters belonging to seven different companies, because of their similarity to Piaggio’s historic model. On that occasion, the Financial Police had found that the displayed models violated Piaggio’s exclusive right consisting in a three-dimensional trademark that protects the distinctive shape of the Vespa. One of the companies involved in the seizure, the Chinese Taizhou Zhongneng, had requested the Court of Turin for the cancellation of Vespa's trademark and, therefore, to ensure compliance of Chinese motorcycle line presented at EICMA , under the "Ves" trademark. The Italian group, however, had initially responded claiming its right on a specific model, the Vespa LX of 2005, and then on all the lines produced since 1948. The Court granted the applications of the trademark and accepted the requests proposed by Piaggio’s Lawyers and established not only that the Chinese company is prohibited from producing and marketing the scooter Ves, but also that all of the Vespa stylistic variations are protected by Article 2 of the Italian Law on copyright. This, however, raises some doubts because, although it was obvious that the shape of the Ves is identical to that produced by Piaggio and in addition the trademark is infringing, on the other hand granting a copyright or design shape to all Vespa models is more complicated. In fact, by affirming that all the different versions of Vespa are protected by copyright the judges established a prohibition of the marketing of any scooter, being the Vespa’s shape and the scooter’s one the same thing.