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IP Enforcement

Turkish IPR laws are mainly compatible with EU legislation and provide a legal basis in combating against IP infringement. However, some obstacles for an effective protection still remain, i.e. a growing backlog of both criminal and civil cases and the lack of overall deterrence in results. A new IPR law is expected to be published to overcome some pending issues in late 2016.yyy

Turkey is a civil law country with 23 specialized criminal and civil IP courts in cities including Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir and a special prosecutor´s bureau responsible for IPR investigations. Civil and criminal cases cannot be heard by the same court.

Civil IP courts may order a preliminary injunction to stop the infringement and/or to seize the infringing products which can be claimed before or alongside the proceedings, however such an injunction is rarely granted, unless very strong evidence of infringement is available.

An IP holder may request a civil IP Court to issue a judgment ordering the defendant to stop infringing actions and make compensation for damages. The judgment of the IP Court may also include the confiscation and destruction of counterfeit products, along with machinery and other equipment used to produce the counterfeits.

For criminal proceedings, a right holder must file a complaint against the infringer with the public prosecutor. Criminal actions are commonly used and are the most effective tool in anti-counterfeiting tasks. Only lawyers who are registered with one of the Turkish bars can represent parties before the courts. Patent or trademark attorneys cannot represent a party in legal proceedings or formally appear before the Turkish courts, except for their presence as independent official experts appointed by the Judge.

National police conduct raids upon the instruction of prosecutors or ex officio for some copyright infringements and upon complaint for counterfeit materials. In the current organization structure, the General Directorate of Police consists of central and provincial units. These are the police departments at the General Directorate and State Security Sections in the provinces.

As for the share of responsibilities, State Security Units deal with intellectual and industrial property rights frauds, whereas Organized Crimes Units are responsible for organized intellectual and industrial property rights frauds. The prosecutors instruct these units in accordance with this job separation.

Customs applications are an effective tool used by the customs authorities to protect IP. Customs applications and enforcement Customs applications can be filed for intellectual and artistic works (copyrights), patent and utility model rights, industrial design rights, geographical indications, trademarks, supplementary protection certificates and other intellectual and industrial property rights.

The “centralized” customs applications can be filed electronically at the Turkish customs authorities by using an electronic data exchange system. If the rights holder is located abroad, a representative specifically appointed by an attorney or other authorized person can file a request on behalf of the rights holder. It is important for the rights holder to provide information to allow the customs authorities to easily recognize the goods during their routine checks.

It is recommended for right holders to take note of the followings:
  • Protect your rights through their registration, if possible, by applying to the Turkish Patent Institute and to customs beforehand.
  • Remember that a registered IP right, whether it is fair or not (i.e. with bad faith) should be invalidated at first before taking effective infringement actions and any earlier use of counter party is assumed to be legal and can hardly be challenged.
  • Try sending warning or C&D letters if necessary but do not trust that they will always be taken into consideration seriously or in-time by the counter party.
  • Seek advance professional advice from lawyers and professionals on how to deal with the legal actions, secure evidence and amicable approaches.
  • Put protective measures in place in respect of confidential information and trade secrets.
  • Engage lawyers and enforcement as quickly as possible and take appropriate action.
Please see “legal environment” directory for court actions, time scales and further details.

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