Thousands of packages seized at the port of La Spezia – The criminal conviction by the Court

Thousands of packages of chocolates bearing the counterfeit trademark CHOCO CRISPO were seized at the port of La Spezia. A decision of the Criminal Section of the Court of La Spezia of 5.2.2021 confirms the existence of the offence, given the “counterfeit” nature of the trademark placed on the packages. Upon request of the Police, Studio Torta prepared a technical expert opinion on behalf of Crispo S.r.l., assisted in court by lawyer Marcello Ronfani

 

The case at issue, which resulted at first instance with decision no. 124 issued by the Court of La Spezia, Criminal Section, involved Crispo S.r.l. and the Polish company XYZ. In particular, the Polish company XYZ was charged with the offence provided for and punished by Article 474 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits the introduction and sale in the State of products with false signs, likely to damage public faith and cause confusion in consumers.

In 2019, Customs inspected two containers coming from Poland and directed to Libya, identifying thousands of packages of chocolates and pralines bearing the sign CHOCO CRISPO, thus reproducing the renowned trademark CRISPO of the homonymous company, Italian excellence in the confectionery and sweets sector.

At this point, the Police involved Studio Torta, which prepared a technical opinion on the counterfeiting of the CRISPO trademark. As a result, more than 3,500 chocolate packages contained in the two containers were seized. The Polish company XYZ filed an application for release, which was rejected.

As a result of the findings of the expert appointed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the deductions made by Studio Torta and the pleadings of Marcello Ronfani, counsel for the company CRISPO S.r.l., the judge for preliminary investigations of the Court of La Spezia issued an order for preventive seizure of the defendant’s products.

During the first hearing, Crispo S.r.l. appeared as civil plaintiff, represented and defended by Marcello Ronfani, lawyer, while the Polish company XYZ requested an abbreviated trial, which was admitted.

The judge at first instance, considering the counterfeit nature of the CRISPO trademark placed on the packages of products seized by Customs, recognised the existence of both the objective and subjective elements of the offence referred to in Article 474 of the Criminal Code, sentencing the defendant to 8 months’ imprisonment, a fine of €2,400, payment of court costs, compensation for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage to be settled in a separate case in favour of the civil plaintiff Crispo S.r.l., and payment, again in favour of the civil plaintiff, of an interim compensation precept; the Judge also ordered the confiscation and destruction of the seized products and ordered the publication of an extract of the sentence.

Considering this important operation for the protection of trademarks and of the made in Italy, it is recalled that the customs surveillance service is a particularly effective and not particularly costly tool to counteract the importation of counterfeit goods into the European Union, in support of the activities of the customs authorities and law enforcement agencies.

Francesca Boggio

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