Turkey: Liabilities Of Internet Hosting Providers On Electronic Commerce In Turkey

Last Updated: 17 January 2015
Article by Deniz Yetimalar

As electronic commerce ("e-commerce") has become widespread over the past decade, it has also become increasingly prone to abuse that could significantly hinder the business of internet hosting providers. E-commerce may be defined briefly as, the promotion, selling and marketing of products and services online. A significant number of companies use e-commerce to ply their trade in Turkey and around the world.

This article looks at the latest development in the field of trademark law, the recent Supreme Court Assembly of Civil Chambers of Turkey (the "SCACC") decision concerning a trademark infringement dispute through e-commerce, in which SCACC has set out the "notify-remove principle".

One of the most common methods of e-commerce is providing an environment for promoting, selling and marketing for products and services of multiple companies through websites. E-commerce companies which provide such environments are called "internet hosting providers" and they run the risk of being party to a dispute with their users at the fields of law of obligations, commercial law, consumer protection law, competition law and intellectual property law. Disputes regarding breach of trademark are the primary of these risks. Despite the fact that e-commerce companies provide environments for promoting, selling and marketing of the products and the services and the actual sale is made by the users; the e-commerce companies could be responsible for trademark infringement collectively with their users, if the products they are offering to sell are imitations of a registered trademark.

The subject of this article is designated as "the collective liability of internet hosting providers for offering to sale counterfeit products towards trademark right holders". Our research concerns a current SCACC ruling on a related dispute; therefore this article has the characteristics of a judgment review.

The dispute in issue concerns the sale of counterfeit products using the registered trademark of a well-known cosmetics company through the website of an internet hosting provider. The cosmetics company filed a lawsuit against the hosting provider claiming counterfeit products were being sold using its registered trademark and these transactions form trademark infringement and unfair competition and claim declaration and banning of unfair competition, prevention of infringement, stopping the sale, recalling and destruction of counterfeit products and compensation of damages for mental anguish. As result of this lawsuit, the Supreme Court Assembly of Civil Chambers of Turkey set out a new principle called "notify-remove principle" and established a precedent determining the basis of these claims; which would be discussed herein.

After the motion date of this case, on May 4, 2007 the aforementioned "notify-remove principle" became a law on "Turkish Law on Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Suppression of Crimes Committed by Means of Such Publications" numbered 5651 (the "Law"). The fifth article of the Law expressly indicates that "internet hosting providers are not obliged to control the content for which it hosts or to investigate whether an unlawful action is realized there or not". This rule would apply as the general rule to the disputes which occur after this Law became effective. To the disputes that had occurred before this Law became effective, the "notify-remove principle" would apply, putting the internet-hosting provider under obligation to remove the content from publication on condition that the provider is notified. The Law also stated the responsibility principles of hosting providers when the content on their websites constitutes encouragement and incitement of suicide, sexual abuse of children, facilitating the use of drugs or stimulants, supplying the hazardous substances for health, obscenity, prostitution, providing a place and possibility for gambling, crimes set forth in the "Law on the Crimes Committed against Ataturk" numbered 5816 or infringement of personal rights.

The "Decree Law on the Protection of Trademarks numbered 556" which was in effect on the motion date stated merchandising counterfeit products using an identical or confusingly similar trademark without the consent of the proprietor of the registered trademark and associating these actions or facilitating them shall be regarded as infringement. Therefore, the internet hosting providers are responsible for offering to sale the products that unlawfully imitate the cosmetics company's registered trademark through their websites under the Decree Law.

The Supreme Court Assembly of Civil Chambers of Turkey rightfully pointed that internet hosting providers are not in a position to acquaint its users' violations of trademark infringements owing to the technical structure of internet; thus in order for them to be liable of such actions, they should be notified ahead. Consequently, liability of internet hosting providers would only be in question in the event that they have been notified of the infringement and have not removed the unlawful content from publication without valid ground. (This principle is denoted as the "notify-remove principle".) In other words, in order to hold an internet hosting provider liable of its users' trademark infringements, they should have been aware of the infringement. Failing this, it would not be possible to refer to internet hosting providers' fault. In order for the plaintiff's prevention of infringement and stopping the sale claims to be recognized, the defendant's fault is not required. However, the fault is required for the defendant to be liable of the consequences and compensating damages for mental anguish. It must be noted that, internet hosting providers' active acquaintance is required, not it's being in a position to know about the trademark infringement. In brief, an internet service provider would only be regarded faulty and held liable of the breach in event of it is informed of its user's trademark infringement, yet have not removed the content from its website without having just cause.

The "notify-remove principle" is in accordance with European Union Directive on Electronic Commerce and the U.S.A Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The Turkish litigation has set out a principle that protects the freedom of trade, which is also protected by TRIPS and TRIPS Paris Convention. Since the rulings of Supreme Court Assembly of Civil Chambers are binding under Turkish law, the "notify-remove principle" has become binding for all district courts and the departments of the Supreme Court of Turkey.

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.