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Herbert Smith Freehills has successfully defended Bormioli Luigi S.p.A. - a world leader in the production of high quality tableware and glassware - against one of its main international competitors in a complex dispute concerning the design of a line of professional stemware. The Herbert Smith Freehills team was led by partner Pietro Pouché, of counsel Sara Balice and senior associate Giulia Maienza.

Bormioli Luigi is an important and well-established Italian industrial reality, operating in the world of glass since 1825, and is today one of the most important glass companies on the Italian and international scene, an expression of refined Made in Italy, exported to over 100 countries. The Bormioli Group has always produced high quality products, using innovative technologies and original shapes that combine functionality and aesthetics.

The IP section of the Court of Milan confirmed the legitimacy of Bormioli Luigi's production and marketing of the line of stemware at issue in the case, rejecting the claims of its competitor in their entirety. In particular, the Court of Milan recognised that Bormioli Luigi's line of stemware represented the evolution of a historical line of Bormioli's from the 1960s, inspired by the "rummer" or "römer", large glass goblets for wine or beer, particularly popular among noble families from the 18th century onwards, of which the other party's design took all the formal elements. The Court therefore declared the opposing design invalid, thus confirming the legitimacy of Bormioli Luigi's business, which he was free to pursue.

The Herbert Smith Freehills team, with substantial support from the client's in-house legal team, carried out a particularly thorough and sophisticated investigation, including research in specialist journals, museum catalogues and antique dealers, in order to prove the existence of numerous antecedents dating back to the 18th century, which allowed Bormioli Luigi to secure this important victory. 

This case is particularly important because it explores the limits of legal design protection in relation to objects whose form is directly linked to their functionality, in a crowded market characterised by standardised shapes such as glass goblets.  

Key contacts

Pietro Pouché photo

Pietro Pouché

Partner, Milan

Pietro Pouché
Sara Balice photo

Sara Balice

Of Counsel, Milan

Sara Balice
Giulia Maienza photo

Giulia Maienza

Senior Associate (Italy), London

Giulia Maienza

Media contact

For further information on this news article, please contact:

Isabella Fusillo

Gruppo Stratego


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Milan Intellectual Property Pietro Pouché Sara Balice Giulia Maienza