The Court of Turin grants copyright protection to an architectural project of building renovation

With order of January 14th 2022, the Court of Turin, section specialized in business matters, affirmed the protectability as a work of ingenuity of a preliminary study having as object a project of renovation of a building complex.

The decision, taken in the course of a precautionary complaint, constitutes a further confirmation of the direction of the jurisprudence on the matter, more and more incline to recognize the nature of a work of ingenuity – and, therefore, the authorial protection – even of project of building renovation as long as characterized by a minimum of creative activity of the author.

On this matter, it is important to premise that, pursuant to art. 1 of the Italian Law no. 633/1941 on copyright, “works of ingenuity with creative character” are object of protection, and in particular among these “drawings or architectural works” are also expressly included (art. 2 no. 5 Copyright Law)

In order to solve the case under exam, the Court of Turin recalled the constant orientation of the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation on copyright, and in particular, that one according to which the juridical concept of creativity does not coincide with the one of creation, originality and absolute novelty but with the expressive form of the work which is translated into an exterior personal manifestation of the author’s idea. It follows, therefore, that “creativity cannot be excluded only because the work consists in simple ideas and notions included in the intellectual patrimony of the people having experience in the field” (Supreme Court 5089/2004 and Id. 23292/2015).

Moreover, in the case of works of architecture, the requirement of creativity must emerge from an overall evaluation which takes necessarily into account the ensemble of elements constituting and defining the work.

These are principles that the same Court had already applied in the known case related to the project of a thermoelectric power plant where it was stated that “the concept of creativity of the architectural work should not be intended in the sense of absolute originality and novelty, but in the sense that the work must represent a personal elaboration of the author with a minimum of representative individuality”. (Court of Turin 6404/2013)

Lastly, for the purposes of the case under exam, it is interesting to highlight the importance of the reference to judgment no. 15158/2018 according to which even “the preliminary architectural project which is characterized as work of ingenuity, as a result of creativity and assisted by novelty and originality, even if transfused in the final project, maintains the right to be protected when it is used autonomously, also for exposition purposes”.

In consideration of the above-mentioned argumentations, the Court of Turin has recognized autonomous – creative – value to the architectural project as to constitute by all means an architectural work protectable pursuant to copyright law.


Carolina Sconci