We produce model cars and now we realized that a Taiwanese company shamelessly copies us. We will patent them in the future but for the past, is it all lost?

Actually the good thing to do is patenting a model, not only in its technical components but also in its design if it has a particular relevance. The patent is the only instrument allowing to efficiently protect your products even if, due to its territoriality, it cannot protect in Taiwan unless the company sells in Italy, in that case it would go against the exclusive right coming from the sole right. The current problem with the Taiwanese company, i.e. without having filed the patent in the past, is rather complex. First of all, it is necessary to evaluate where the company produces and sells and then face the problem of the infringement. If the copied products are sold also in Italy, through a local company which buys the cars and sells them in the internal market, it could be possible to act against the importer for unfair competition. This type of action is more complex than the one foreseen for the protection of the patent, but theoretically it could be possible, provided that the cars are at first sight mistakable. Whereas if the company sell only abroad, it is necessary to evaluate if you too sell in that country and if the local law recognize, and in what limits, the possibility to act with an action of unfair competition for imitation of the products.