Monday, August 19, 2019
The Supreme Court sided with Autostrade per l'Italia, a Benetton Group company in litigation brought by a Tuscan company, which had claimed that Autostrade per l'Italia infringed one of its patents. Thus concludes a legal battle that has been ongoing for several years.
The Supreme Court found that the Tutors - machines for measuring vehicle speed - installed by Autostrade per l'Italia in various parts of its road network do not violate the Tuscan company's patent, and therefore can continue to remain in function. The Court's decision overturns the conclusions reached by the Court of Appeal of Rome just over a year ago.
The judges of the Supreme Court, who had already issued a previous decision on this subject matter, accepted the arguments set forth by counsel for Autostrade per l'Italia, Giuseppe Bernardi, Lucio Ghia and Fabrizio Jacobacci. Autostrade per l'Italia is the largest Italian operator of motorway sections (managing almost 3 thousand kilometers of roadways), and belongs to the Benetton family. The ltigation was initiated by a company from the Tuscan town of Greve in Chianti, Craft S.r.l., which sought, among other things, compensation for damages, which had already been denied by the lower courts, and which was in the early stages of this dispute defended by the law firm of the current Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte. Craft started this lengthy legal battle, in which the first decision was issued in 2008, alleging the infringement of one of its patents that, using the principle of average speed and two remote stations connected with a central computer, detects and identifies vehicles that travel over the speed limit by the optical reading of the license plate.
The conclusion of the long-standing "Tutor war" follows victories by Autostrade per l'Italia in the first two court instances. Then, following a first postponement of the Supreme Court proceedings, the Court of Appeal of Rome issued a decision finding that Craft's patent was infringed by Autostrade per l'Italia's use of the Tutor devices and even ordered destruction of the same. Thanks to continued opposition by Autostrade per l'Italia's defense team, the destruction of the Tutor devices was avoided.
According to the Supreme Court's decision on August 14th, the device described in Craft's patent and the Autostrade per l'Italia devices - the SICVe (developed in the early 2000s) - utilise "two separate vehicle detection systems "(one that is optical, while the other is inductive / magnetic) and, therefore, there was no infringement.
On the Autostrade per l'Italia road network, the Tutor devices can therefore continue to perform their functions of identifying and deterring excessive speed. Since the installation of the Tutor devices, the Traffic Police has been able to issue millions of tickets for speeding offences and the Italian State has collected billions of Euros in fines.