Turkey: Grey Areas: Fighting Internet Fraud In Turkey

Last Updated: 30 August 2013
Article by Riza Ferhan Cagirgan and Ahmet Akguloglu

The liability of so-called 'online marketplaces' for sales of counterfeit products is a contentious area in Turkey, as Riza Cagirgan and Ahmet Akguloglu explain.

In parallel with developments in information and communication technologies, computers and the Internet have become an indispensable part of our lives and e-commerce has become a rising star. Nowadays, e-commerce is a constantly growing sector and a global-scale economy in its own right.

The common use of e-commerce got underway in Turkey belatedly, but today it's going strong.

Turkey has followed global developments and Turkish entrepreneurs have launched multiple e-commerce websites by way of B2C (business to consumer) and C2C (consumer to consumer) models.

The B2C model, which is used for websites enabling direct sale to consumers and constituting online merchandising activities, has also been developed for 'private shopping' websites which constitute a platform where price-reduced products of various brands are sold.

The C2C e-commerce model was introduced to Turkey by a website called gittigidiyor.com which was established in 2001. It has now been purchased by eBay and it led to the establishment of many other similar e-commerce websites. The trade volume of such websites increases in direct proportion to Turkish society's trust in them.

Development of e-commerce

While e-commerce changed the nature of traditional commerce, it also created an environment where infringement of IP rights and illegal activities affecting consumers became common.

As a result of intense investigation and legal proceedings, in the bricks-and-mortar market the sale of counterfeit products has been significantly reduced, so counterfeiters have opted to offer their products via e-commerce, which constitutes a grey area.

In Turkey, as e-commerce has become more popular, the sale of counterfeit products increased. These websites usually sell textile and cosmetic products, shoes, bags, watches and accessories of well-known brands.

Use of both the C2C and the B2C e-commerce models has increased the sale of counterfeit products and many consumers who purchase the products based on the images and declarations of the seller are finding that the products are counterfeit when they are delivered.

Use of e-commerce platforms in sale of counterfeit products not only damages the rights of IP owners but also can affect human health due to bad and low quality production methods, and therefore endangers consumers. When it comes to pharmaceuticals, the consequences could even be fatal. In this respect, creating a safe platform for both IP rights owners and consumers is vital.

Tackling counterfeiting

Marketing of counterfeit products by way of e-commerce has triggered IP rights owners to search for new prevention methods, some of which have led to legal actions against e-commerce platforms.

The Decree Law regarding Protection of Trademarks number 556 entitles rights owners to initiate civil and/or criminal proceedings against infringing parties. The crucial point here is the correct determination of against whom and with which claims proceedings should be initiated. In this respect, the rights owners need to determine the infringing party/parties, way of infringement and liability limits in order to benefit from the rights recognised by the laws.

Within this scope, the rights owner is entitled to initiate lawsuits before civil courts against producers of counterfeit products (who may also be directly marketing such products via an e-commerce platform they operate) or parties who sell the counterfeit products via an e-commerce platform for prevention of infringement of trademark rights. In addition, rights owners are entitled to claim compensation for material and moral damages.

For maximum efficiency purposes, it is a good idea to request a preliminary injunction for confiscation of counterfeit products wherever they are present and/or prevention of access to the website or link where the counterfeit products are marketed, either before or during the lawsuit. In the event the court rules on the preliminary injunction, marketing of counterfeit products will be prevented until the lawsuit is concluded, which increases the efficiency of the legal action.

A rights owner who is entitled to initiate a civil lawsuit against the infringing party is also entitled to file a criminal complaint and request a search and confiscation decision.

Following a request from the public prosecutor, the Criminal Court of Peace may decide on search and confiscation of counterfeit products and then the counterfeit products may be confiscated by way of a police raid; criminal lawsuits are then initiated against the infringing parties. A search and confiscation order issued during criminal proceedings has similar effects to a preliminary injunction issued during civil lawsuits.

However, such search and confiscation orders differ from preliminary injunctions because they do not block access to the e-commerce website where the counterfeit products are marketed. In this respect, it is obvious that a preliminary injunction issued by a civil court is more efficient compared to criminal orders.

Fundamentally, there is not much debate on the possible legal actions against the above-mentioned uses. The main argument is focused on the sale of counterfeit products via a C2C model named 'online marketplace'. In this model, the operator of the e-commerce website is neither the producer nor the seller of the counterfeit product.

These websites are established to match sellers with consumers online by way of establishing a suitable infrastructure. E-commerce websites which do not aim to market counterfeit products are now commonly used by infringing parties and constitute a major problem for right owners.

Legal actions against such e-commerce platforms have initiated a discussion on liability limits. Hence, the e-commerce platform operators claim that they cannot be held responsible since they neither produce nor sell the counterfeit products and it is practically impossible to review the authenticity of every product marketed via their e-commerce platforms.

In relation to this matter, courts of France and the UK have ruled that the e-commerce platform operators bear some responsibility, notably in L'Oreal SA v eBay International AG, EWHC 1094 (2009) in the UK, and Hermès International v Feitz and eBay, Tribunal de Grande Instance, Troyes, June 4, 2008, No.06/02604 (France) while the courts of Germany and the US have generally ruled that it is not possible to hold the e-commerce platform operator directly liable if the rights owner does not serve any prior notification, including in Rolex v Ricardo IZR 304/01, Bundesgerichtshof, March 11, 2004 (Germany) and Tiffany (NJ) Inc v eBay, 2008 WL 2 (US).

The Turkish courts are also of the opinion that the rights owner shall first serve a notice to the e-commerce platform operator requesting removal of the counterfeit products and in the event of the operator not removing the offending item, the e-commerce platform operator can be held liable.

Overall assessment

As a result of the above assessments, enactment of legislation on e-commerce is a substantial step for resolution of disputes arising in relation to e-commerce, which is envisaged to be the major, and may be the only, shopping platform. In accordance with applicable legislation, possible action against infringements on the B2C model is clear.

Possible action regarding infringements on the C2C model is, however, still a grey area. Despite the fact that the courts are currently building case law on IP disputes arising from online marketplaces, harmonisation of the legislation on e-commerce is important for both consumers and right owners.

Originally published on Worldipreview.comFreedom of Information in Turkish Constitution.

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.

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”

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
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.