Beginning 18 May 2015 applications for Italian intellectual property rights must be filed only using the new online portal set up by the Italian Patent and Trademark Office (IPTO). Also, payment of the fees and dues can no longer be made with postal orders, but exclusively with online payments.

This new filing procedure, which is centralized with the IPTO and is not, as previously, farmed out among the various Chambers of Commerce which acted as branches of the IPTO, has meant it was necessary to review the method of assigning a number to each application. Up to now, the number included the two-letter code of the province of the Chamber of Commerce where the application was filed. Two patent applications filed at two different Chambers of Commerce could be given the same filing number (which was simply a sequence number allocated when the application was filed), but the respective application numbers were easily distinguishable from each other because of the province code. The same thing could happen with applications for trademarks, utility models or designs.

The new numbers given to applications contain 15 digits. The first two digits identify the type of protection applied for: “10” for patents for industrial inventions, “20” for utility models, “30” for trademarks, “40” for designs and models and “50” for the national portions of granted European patents. The next four digits indicate the year in which the application was filed, and the remaining nine digits are the chronological sequence number assigned to that particular application.

Online payments must obviously give the number of the application to which they refer, so that the payment will be linked to the correct application. If the payment is for the maintenance of a property right, then two further digits will be added to the 15 digits of the application number, to indicate the number of the annuity or of the renewal that is being paid.

The requirement to pay fees and dues only online applies not only for applications that are being filed already now with the new portal and those filed from 18 May 2015 onward, but for all past applications as well, i.e. all intellectual property titles that were filed in the past and are still in force. For this reason each patent, model, trademark, design or validation still in force will be given a 15-digit number created using the new numbering system, so that it will be possible to make online payments for cases that until now have had “traditional” application numbers.

As with any great change, it is possible that the new procedure for filing and for payment of fees and dues may encounter teething problems or difficulties, which will require time for fixing so that the system can operate properly. When this is achieved, it will mean a great improvement in the field of Italian intellectual property both in terms of simplification of procedures and in terms of real-time updating of the databases of intellectual property titles.

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