In order to better understand what a format is, one must focus
on the creation process comprised of 4 stages namely: (1)
generating a program idea, (2) creating a format paper, (3) adding
production and business knowledge, and (4) broadcasting the
episode1. In most cases, the producer comes up with the
format idea whereas the broadcaster makes an investment with regard
to the whole procedure.
On account of its complex nature, there is no global consensus
as to whether a TV format should be protected within the scope of
Intellectual Property Law or Unfair Competition Law. Whilst logos
and similar signs part of a TV format may be subject to Trademark
Law protection, such protection per se does not confer protection
against format imitation. On the other hand, Copyright Law may not
always be applicable as a consequence of idea/expression dichotomy.
Therefore, protection is mostly afforded through the principles of
unfair competition and/or breach of confidence2.
Having said that, the Turkish Court of Cassation has
ruled3 in many occasions that even if a TV format falls
out of the scope of Copyright Law, it is for the specialized courts
(the Civil Court of Intellectual and Industrial Property Rights) at
first instance to reach to such conclusion. Otherwise, the lawsuit
may be dismissed due to lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
According to Turkish Law, in order for a TV format to be
considered as work within the context of Copyright Law, it should
fall within one of the categories (i.e. musical works, works of
fine arts etc.) stipulated in the statutory law. In this direction,
the Turkish Court of Cassation has ruled that TV formats may be
considered within the category of cinematographic works4
as well as literary works5. More so, according to the
Court of Cassation6, a format paper itself may well be
considered a literary work and therefore, be protected within the
scope of Copyright Law.
It should also be noted that the Court of Cassation explicitly
states7 that copyright protection does not extend to
methods and procedures. This means that an ordinary plan depicted
in the format paper (i.e. the positioning of the contestants in a
game show format) would not benefit from copyright protection.
The second condition is that the TV format should 'bear the
characteristics of its author'. This notion does not
necessarily require originality as it is adequate that the work in
question reflects the individual style of the artist8.
In resemblance to the Infopaq case9, it is sufficient
that the work in question is original in the sense that it is
'the author's own intellectual creation'. In addition,
the Court of Cassation has repeatedly ruled10 that the
determination as to whether an artistic work is bearing the
characteristics of its author is beyond a judge's legal
knowledge. Pursuantly, the opinion of technical experts such as
sector employees and/or academicians specialized in TV production
shall also be taken into account.
In light of all the foregoing, we may say that Turkish Law may
grant copyright protection to TV formats to the extent that the
above-mentioned conditions are met. However, it should also be
reminded that the Court of Cassation decisions are not of a
principal nature as every dispute is to be settled on a case by
1. Neta-li E. Gottlieb, 'Free to Air? Legal
Protection for TV Program Formats', The Intellectual Property
Law Review Vol. 51, Forthcoming; University of Chicago Law &
Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 513.
2. Stefan Bechtold, The Fashion of TV Show Formats, 2013
Michigan State Law Review 451-512 (2013).
3. The Eleventh Civil Law Chamber of Turkish Court of
Cassation Case No. 2005/11112 E. 2006/11933 K. under date of
4. The Eleventh Civil Law Chamber of Turkish Court of
Cassation Case No. 2004/6612 E. 2005/3278 K. under date of
5. The Eleventh Civil Law Chamberof Turkish Court of
Cassation Case No. 2011/12577 E. 2013/13823 K. under date of
6. The Eleventh Civil Law Chamber of Turkish Court of
Cassation Case No. 2011/12280 2013/12047 K. under date of
On 8 September 2016 (C-160/15), the CJEU ruled that the posting of a hyperlink to copyright-protected works located on another website does not constitute copyright infringement when the link poster does not seek financial gain.
The chapter on the UK summarises the IP court and litigation system in the UK, recent developments in relation to IP law and practice, the forms and availability of IP protection and trends and outlook in the IP sphere.
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