In Turkey, court interpretations of the Trademark Decree Law
have created a grey area for foreign companies using Turkey as a
production location, as well as for Turkish contract manufacturers.
A disconnect exists between seemingly clear legislation and the
interpretation applied by the courts. Under the current approach
adopted by Turkish courts, a foreign company which manufactures its
goods in Turkey will only be deemed to be using its trademark in
Turkey if the goods are introduced into the Turkish market.
Turkey is an important contract manufacturer, particularly for
the textile and clothing industries. The country has relatively
high standards for working conditions. It is also a notable
transport hub for land, sea, and air. Finally, Turkey has a Custom
Union Agreement with the European Union. Due to these factors,
global brands based out of the European Union and United States
regularly cooperate with Turkish contract manufacturers to have
products manufactured in Turkey, according to their specifications.
Depending on each brand's policies, these Turkish manufactured
products can be sent to the intended market either with or without
From a trademark perspective, questions arise whether Turkish
trademark registration is necessary, given that only the production
takes place in Turkey. A further question exists as to whether
manufacturing goods in Turkey constitutes use of a trademark within
the context of proving use of a mark. While the Trademark Decree
Law appears to specifically and clearly address these questions,
court practices seem to be contradictory.
Article 14 of the Trademark Decree Law outlines a non-exhaustive
list of what constitutes use of a trademark in Turkey. Use of the
trademark on goods or their packaging solely for exportpurposes is
listed among the other means of usage. From the wording of this
provision, it is clearly understood that use of the trademark in
Turkey includes attaching the trademark onto the label, or onto the
package, before the product is dispatched from Turkey. If a
trademark is not attached to the Turkish-manufactured product once
it has left Turkey, this will not be considered to be a use of the
trademark in Turkey. Article 14 does not make a distinction as to
the nature of the production.
Despite the wording of Article 14, in practice Turkish courts
seem to give weight to whether the company manufactures the goods
for itself, or as a contract manufacturer on behalf of another
company. In some cases Turkish courts have held that a trademark
has not been used in Turkey, in circumstances where a Turkish
company acts as a contract manufacturer and the goods are not
introduced into the Turkish market. The courts have treated the
question of whether or not the goods are introduced into the
Turkish market as determinative. Under the current approach, if a
court determines that this introduction has not occurred, a company
which has arranged for its goods to be manufactured in Turkey will
not be deemed to be using its trademark in Turkey.
Contradictorily, Turkish contract manufacturers are generally
held liable by Turkish courts in trademark infringement claims
initiated by Turkish trademark holders regarding goods being
manufactured in Turkey. In such cases, courts have not accepted the
contract manufacturer's defense that it is manufacturing the
goods upon order, according to the purchasing company's
specification. The Appeal Court has approved the existence of
trademark infringement in certain cases, despite the products not
being introduced into the Turkish market.
In future, Turkish courts must make a clear distinction as to
the products manufactured solely for export purposes and which will
never have access to the Turkish consumer.
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.
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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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