Turkey: Turkey Introduces Online Intellectual Property Registration System To Help Identify Counterfeit Goods Passing Through Customs

The Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade ("TMCA") has launched an online application system on its website. This new system allows intellectual property and industrial right holders ("IP right holders") to more easily register their rights in the TMCA's central database. Previously, IP right holders were required to submit physical documents. The TMCA uses the database to assess goods passing through Turkey's customs points and identify illegitimate shipments. Recent reports state that counterfeit products worth between US $3.5 billion and $4.4 billion are imported into Turkey and directly consumed by Turkish consumers every year. In 2012, over 2,750,000 trucks passed through Turkish customs points.

2009 Regulations and changes to the application process

New Turkish Customs Regulations came into effect in October 2009. These Regulations outlined a mechanism for IP right holders to file the necessary applications and requests online. However, the electronic system described in the Regulations was not active until 1 April 2013.

Through the online system, IP right holders can now:

  1. Register their IP rights at all Turkish customs points
  2. Renew their existing TMCA registrations
  3. Check the status of their existing TMCA registrations

This new online facility is the latest in series of changes to the process for registering intellectual property rights with the TMCA. Prior to the 2009 Regulations, IP right holders were required to send physical documents to each individual customs point in Turkey. From 2009 until recently, IP rights holders were only required to supply one set of physical documents to a central TMCA office in Ankara. Each of the far-flung customs points can access the information through a central computer system. This latest change means IP right holders no longer have to send physical documents to Ankara to register their IP rights, but rather can now register these with the TMCA online.

Advantages of registering with the TMCA

Once the IP right holder registers with the TMCA, the information will be accessible by every custom point in Turkey. This includes information about the registered patent, design, trademark, integrated circuit topography, geographical indicators or even copyright (which is not register-able).

IP right holders may choose to register with the TMCA either:

  1. As a precaution against possible infringing goods passing through Turkish customs points, or
  2. Where they have some actual information that counterfeit goods will be passing through Turkish customs points.

Thus, IP right holders may either "tip off" the TMCA about known illegitimate shipments, or rely on the TMCA to identify illegitimate shipments itself. In either circumstance, staff at the customs point will refer to the information provided by the IP right holder to determine whether the goods in question are legitimate of not.

Application process

Applications can be completed either by the right holder or its representative. However in practice, foreign right holders must file applications through a local representative. This is because the TMCA's online system asks for the applicant's Turkish identity number.

On receiving an online application, the TMCA will process it and notify the applicant of its decision in writing within 30 working days. The TMCA may either accept or refuse the application.

If the TMCA accepts an application, this will last 12 months before the IP right owner will need to renew this with the TMCA again though the online system.

If the TMCA rejects the application, there is no appeal mechanism, but the applicant may file a fresh application for the same trademark. The TMCA may reject an application if documents are missing.

Information supplied during an application

When submitting an application to the TMCA, the IP right owner must make a declaration and submit proof that they hold the intellectual property rights for the goods in question. This is usually proved via provision of a Trademark Certificate. Therefore, before making an application to the TMCA, an applicant must first register their IP rights in Turkey with the Turkish Patent Institute. The TMCA and Patent Institute processes are different and entirely separate.

IP Right holders should supply as much information as possible about their goods to assist staff at the customs points to determine whether goods are legitimate or not. This information includes:

  • An accurate and detailed technical description of the goods
  • Pictures of legitimate goods and their packaging
  • The freight company usually used for legitimate goods
  • The usual packaging techniques for legitimate goods
  • The destination and recipient of legitimate goods
  • Known scheduled shipments, including dates, consignment numbers and destinations/recipients
  • The pre-tax value of the original goods on the legitimate market in Turkey
  • The identity of the importer, exporter or holder of the goods
  • Any details about the goods which are specific to the type of intellectual right

IP right holders should also supply any information they may have about illegitimate goods, such as:

  • Technical differences between legitimate and counterfeit goods
  • Common geographical sources and destinations of illegitimate goods
  • The country or countries of production and the routes used by traffickers
  • Pictures of illegitimate goods

The process for stopping suspected counterfeit goods at customs points

When goods are suspected of being counterfeit, customs will hold the goods and send a fax to the person nominated by the IP right holder during the online application. They will notify this person irrespective of whether the goods are destined for Turkey or continuing on to another final destination. Customs suspends shipment for three business days to allow time for this person to inspect the suspected goods. The parties shipping and receiving the goods are not formally alerted to the suspension having occurred. However, in reality, they may become aware due to delays in delivery, or other channels.

Where shipping is suspended, there are some financial obligations imposed on the trademark holder. These were introduced by the 2009 Law. All expertise and examination costs must be paid by the right holder. For example, when the customs staff must bring the suspected goods from another part of the customs area, this generally involves a forklift. The costs of this are borne by the trademark owner.

Where the IP right holder inspects the suspended shipment and determines the goods to be counterfeit, they may choose to obtain a preliminary injunction to prevent the shipment continuing further. The IP right holder must obtain this injunction within ten business days for normal goods and within three business days for perishable goods. The time allowed to obtain the injunction is measured from the date the TMCA notified the nominated person of the suspended goods.

In appropriate cases, the period to obtain an injunction may be extended by a maximum of ten further business days. However, the time period to obtain an injunction relating to perishable goods may not be extended.

If the IP right holder does not obtain an injunction within this timeframe, the TMCA will release the goods to continue their shipment. The TMCA will not take any further action once the shipment is released.

In practice, even if the products are highly suspected as being counterfeit, the custom office will not inform a right holder unless they have registered their rights in the central database. This illustrates the importance of IP right holders registering their rights in Turkey, even if they do not intend to enter the Turkish market. Turkey is an important hub for international land, sea or air transportation. Therefore, if IP right owners neglect to register with the TMCA, they will not be informed of counterfeit goods as they pass through Turkish customs points.

IP right holders may request destruction of the goods

As an alternative to initiating potentially lengthy and expensive court proceedings, IP right holders may choose to initiate simplified destruction proceedings to have the goods destroyed by the TMCA. This process requires written consent from the owner of the goods.

Prior to 2009, there was no legal arrangement in Turkey for destroying goods at customs. The 2009 Customs Regulation harmonized Turkish customs law with EU legislation. For this reason, the simplified destruction provisions are very similar to EU Council Regulation no.1383/2003.

The simplified destruction mechanism enables IP right holders to request destruction of the suspected infringing goods without a court order. This makes the simplified destruction mechanism an efficient and cost-effective avenue for IP rights holders.

The owners of the suspended counterfeit goods usually prefer this method as well since it avoids them incurring warehouse fees while they wait for a court decision.

IP right holders have ten business days to request the TMCA destroy the goods under this mechanism. This time limit runs from the date the TMCA detained the suspected goods. In appropriate cases, the period to request destruction of the goods may be extended by a maximum of ten further business days.

When requesting destruction of the goods within the scope of the simplified destruction mechanism, IP right holders should submit:

  • A declaration explaining that the goods are counterfeit or pirated, and
  • How the goods infringe upon the IP right holder's rights, and
  • The true owner's written consent to destruction of the goods.

Upon receiving the true owner's written consent to destruction, a destruction decision is easily issued by the TMCA. Destruction is carried out by a licensed waste facility under the IP right holder's supervision.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Işık Özdoğan, LL.M.
Ezgi Baklacı Gülkokar, LL.M.
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions