Turkey: Intellectual Property Legal Framework In Turkey

Last Updated: 30 April 1998
I. Introduction

Turkey has become a party, as of the 1st January 1995, to the World Trade Organisation Constitution Convention and initiated as of the 1st January 1996 the application with Europe of the Customs Union. To protect industrial property rights in international standards, important and serious works have been carried out purporting both at the development of the national laws related to such issues as well as accession to international conventions, thus leading to the organisation of the necessary infrastructure in 1994-995 as required for an adequate and efficient protection of industrial rights.

II. Legislation in force in Turkey on the Protection of the Industrial property

In order to secure an efficient protection of the industrial property in Turkey, the following regulations have been enforced in 1995:
  • Decree Law No. 551 on the protection of Patent rights,
  • Decree Law No. 554 on the protection of Industrial Designs,
  • Decree Law No. 555 on the protection of geographic signs,
  • Decree Law No. 556 on the protection of trade-marks,
  • Law No. 4128 on sanctions for Intellectual Property rights violations.
Through the said legislation Turkey has initiated the enforcement of the legislation as required for efficient industrial protection up to international standards in Turkey.

1. Decree Law No. 551 on the Protection of Patent Rights

This legislation which was enacted by virtue of Decree law No. 551 dated June 27th, 1995 sets up the conditions, in addition to patent protection, the safeguard of useful model certificates, the system of examination free patent and, as criteria for the issue of patents the concepts and criteria of "innovation", the trespassing of prior art and industrial feasibility, further providing for a (7) year protection for patents without examination (10) years for utility models and (20) years in respect of patents with examination and the conditions for compulsory licenses.

To enjoy of a patent protection, an 'innovation' is required beyond "the status of prior art" "and suitable to industrial application".

Whereas regarding utility models, the only criteria required is innovation and fitness to industrial application but no utility model certificate is granted in respect of processes, the products obtained as a result of such processes and chemicals.

2. The Decree-Law No. 554 on the Protection of Industrial Designs

The Decree Law No. 554 on the protection of Industrial Designs enacted on the June 27th, 1995 provides for a (5) year protection on registered industrial designs.

This protection may be extended up to (4) times, each of (5) years. Thus, the period of protection may be increased to 25 years in total. The protection of designs has been fixed based on the principle of registration without substantive examination. The principle of publication has been extended to cover all applications.

Only the owners of registered designs shall avail of a protection. One of the most outstanding features of the Design Law is the inclusion in the legislation of the deferred publication system as applied in the world as a different and more simple method for designs subject to becoming promptly obsolete as is the case for textile fashions.

3. Decree Law No. 555 on the Protection of Geographical Signs
The Decree Law No. 555 on the Protection of Geographical signs enacted on the June 27th, 1995 has set up the principles and conditions of protection in respect of the registration, protection and other operations related to geographical signs.

Pursuant to the Law No. 555, natural or legal entities producing the said product, associations of end-users or public concerns as may be related to the issue and the geographical zone may apply for a registration.

The Law on the Protection of Geographical Signs provides, in particular, for protection of those natural industrial, mineral, agricultural and handicraft products which meet qualities looked for depending on geographic characteristics. As a principle of reciprocity, geographical signs in other countries shall also enjoy of a protection as well.

4. Decree Law No. 551 on the Protection of Trade-Marks
This Law replaces the previous Trademark Act which was in force since 1965. The Law is in harmony with the EU directives and also complies with TRIPS.

The Law operates on opposition procedure during registration and first time introduced the registration and protection of service marks. The protection of the registered marks covers initially a period of 10 years, subject a consecutive renewal each time of (10) years.

The Law recognises the Paris Convention and the well known marks but does not distinguish famous marks. Well known marks enjoy a monopoly on all types of goods.

5. Law No. 4128 of the 3rd November 1995
Pursuant to Law No. 4128 enacted on the November 7th, 1995 under the heading of "Law on the amendment of some Laws and Decree-Laws No. 551 on the Protection of Patent Rights, Decree Law No. 554 on the Protection of Industrial Designs, Decree-Law No. 555 on the protection of Geographic signs and Decree-Law No. 556 on the Protection of Trade-Marks whereby penal provisions related to transgression and infringement of rights have been added. The offences have been divided in three groups.

a) Misleading and incorrect declaration relating to registered marks, requiring imprisonment of (1) to (2) years and monetary penalties from TL 300 Million to TL 600 Million.

b) Untrue declaration of rights relating to registered marks, or , unauthorised use of signs giving impression of being registered, requiring imprisonment of (2) to (3) years and fine from TL 600 Million to TL one Billion.

c) The third group relates to violations and infringements, requiring imprisonment of (2) to (4) years and fine of TL 600 Million to TL one Billion.

In addition to these, business place of infringers are closed down for at least one year as well as a prohibition from trading for the same period.

6. Turkey and International Intellectual Property Conventions
As of today, Turkey is a party to the following conventions and adheres to them strictly.
  • Paris Convention on the Protection of the Industrial Property
  • Memorandum of Constitution of the WIPO
  • WTO Convention and TRIPS
  • Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT)
  • Strasbourg Convention on the International Classification of Patents (IPC)
  • Nice Convention on the International Classification of Goods and Services in the Trade and Service marks Registrations
  • Vienna Convention on the International Classification of figurative marks
Apart from of the above, the participation by Turkey as a party to the Protocol related to the Convention of Madrid in respect of the international registration of trade-marks, the Convention of Locarno on the classification of Industrial Designs and the Convention of Budapest has been approved by Decree no. 97/9731 dated 5.8.1997 of the Council of Ministers.

The content of this article is to provide only a general information on the subject. Legal advice should be sought for any specific circumstances.

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