La parola Fringe è libera

Milano, 29 September 2020

Use of the Word “Fringe” Free from Monopoly!

Milano OFF wins case, and the Court of Milan determines that the word “Fringe” cannot be subject to trademark rights. 

The word “Fringe” has identified international festivals and independent performing arts productions for over 80 years. “Fringe” is freedom. It’s welcomeness and acceptance. It’s dialogue. The only model which Fringe rejects is one of cultural monopoly. 

And yet last year, during last year’s preparations for the 3rd Annual Milano Off Fringe Festival 2019 held at Fabbrica del Vapore, organizers received a formal warning not to use the word Fringe in reference to the “Milano OFF” Festival.

The warning came from a Mr. Davide Ambrogi, who had previously deposited the trademarks “Fringe” and “Milano Fringe” who claimed to have exclusive rights to use the Fringe trademark.

After the warnings, Ambrogi filed a lawsuit, not only asking the Judge to supend Milano Off’s use of the alleged "Fringe" and "Milano Fringe Festival" trademarks, but also to impose a 2,500 euro daily penalty for every day a publication withinin Corriere della Sera was delayed.

In the pages of his appeal and attached documents, Ambrogi cited his Milanese partners —Nolo Fringe Festival, of which he declared himself consultant, and Mr. Riccardo Olivier—  for the protection of and in the interests of whom he also decided to act.

 The Judge in the Court of Milano rejected the case and sentenced the plaintiff to pay all costs of the proceedings. 

“We are personally very pleased that an authoritative source such as the Court of Milan has clarified that anyone can freely use the name Fringe, and has ruled il illegitimate (at least in Italy) for anuone to consider it property,” state Renato Lombardo and Francesca Vitale, General and Artistic Director of Milano Off Fringe Fesitval respectively. “We have requested and received a formal apology for the significant the disruptions and damages, as well as the repeated disturbing actions towards public entities, in exchange for the waiving on our part of the action of nullity regarding the 5 trademarks containing the word Fringe deposited by Mr. Ambrogi.”

For those interested in consulting, the ordinance is free to use (Trib. Milano, sez. specializzata XIV, G. P. Perrotti, RG 44449/2019).

Below is the formal apology set forth and signed by Davide Ambrogi. 


The undersigned Davide Ambrogi, on his own and in his capacity as legal representative of Fringe Italia S.r.l.s., currently in liquidation, extends his formal apologies to Milano OFF Cultural Association, to Mr. Renato Lombardo and to Francesca Vitale, esq., in relation to the warnings and the precautionary action brought against Milano OFF before the Court of Milan, which has ended with the total rejection of all requests made therein. He acknowledges that the trademark claims made against Milano OFF do not meet legal requirements, and therefore that the Italian trademark registrations relating to: "Fringe," "Milano Fringe Festival," "Fringe Italia," and "Matera Fringe Festival," formerly subject to an action of nullity proposed by the Milano Off Cultural and Artistic Association before the Court of Rome, are to be withdrawn, and confirms the correct and fair behavior of the Milano OFF Cultural Association in the exercise of its activities. 

In his lawsuit, the undersigned Davide Ambrogi cites Mr. Riccardo Olivier as representative for the Nolo Fringe Festival organization, to which he sold the "Milano Fringe Festival" trademark. For this reason, Mr. Davide Ambrogi extends his formal apologies for himself, for the structure, and for all third parties on behalf of whom he acted, in relation to all communications and disturbing actions he carried out, including: towards public bodies; during the setting up of the Milano OFF Festival in 2019; towards Milano Off Cultural Association; and towards artistic director Francesca Vitale, esq. He acknowledges having discredited Milano OFF Cultural Association, Mr. Renato Lombardo and lawyer Francesca Vitale, esq. in spite of the values of Fringe Festivals, which consist above all of respecting colleagues, and competitors of any existing model or form.  

Signed: Davide AMBROGI

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MILANO OFF associazione culturale artistica

Ideazione e direzione generale: Renato LOMBARDO
Direzione artistica: FRANCESCA VITALE

Sede Sociale: Via Carlo Freguglia 10 – 20122 Milano
Sede Operativa : Via Sarzana, 50 – 20159 Milano -   tel. +39 392 2930661  -  tel. +39 391 1418299


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