Turkey: Extensive Patent Protection Available Under Turkish Patent Laws

Last Updated: 30 April 1998
1. Turkey and International Patent Treaties
Turkey has been a party to the Paris Convention since 1925 and to the WTO Treaty and the TRIPS. The Patent Laws of Turkey was re drafted in 1995 to comply with the treaties mentioned. Until 1995 the Turkish Patent Law was developed by the Practice and court's jurisprudence in light of the Paris Convention. Turkey also acceded to the Patent Co-operation Treaty PCT allowing applications within WIPO, and the Strasbourg Treaty regarding International Patent Classification.

2. Domestic Turkish Patent Laws
With the 1995 amendments Turkey has brought its patent registration and protection laws to the level of standards in the International Treaties. However the Patent Protection for pharmaceuticals will be available from the 1st of January 1999 while it is possible to register patents now. There are no so called pipe-line patent protection for pharmaceuticals that may have been patented elsewhere.

The Patent Protection in Turkey is subject to a patent application assuming that a patent shall be granted at the end of such application. Patents shall be granted on the basis of novelty exceeding the known status of the technology. Patents may be obtained for (7) years without examination and for (20) years with examination. Novelty searches is carried out either by the European Patent Institute or by the Austrian Patent Institute.

3. Criminal Remedies Available
a) Infringements of Patent rights are met with serious imprisonment from (2) years to (4) years in addition to the Civil remedies from injunctions to orders of cessation and for damages.

b) The Article 136 of the Patent Law, among other means of infringement of patent rights describes that the "use of the patented process, sale, distribution or commercialising in any means or import of such patented products" as infringement of patent rights. In addition to the imprisonment the business place shall be closed for one year and the persons involved in this crime is prohibited from the trade for one year. The tools used in conjunction with such infringements are confiscated.

c) Accomplice to the infringements are punished as the principle violators with the same duration of imprisonment.

4. Civil Remedies Available
a) The Patent Act also enables the owners of patents to seizures of infringing products both at the customs level and after they entered into the domestic markets.

b) The Customs procedures are similar to the European Customs procedures however the implementation is at the moment difficult because the Computerisation of the Turkish Customs is underway.

c) The Patent infringement also triggers the application of the Unfair Competition provisions of the Turkish Commercial Code ("TCC"). Article 57/5 and 57/10 of the TCC stipulates that unrightful association to a competitors products, and non-compliance with the rules and regulations which prevail on the competitors as unfair competition.

5. Cumulative Remedies and Ability to Control Criminal Proceedings
Patent owners may proceed under both the Patents Act and the unfair competition provisions of the TCC seeking both criminal and civil remedies available simultaneously. Patent owners are able to drop the criminal proceedings which we find an extremely useful tool to force the violators to come to terms favourable to the right holders. This is useful because the Turkish Courts are hesitant to order substantial damages and the high rates of inflation deteriorates the value of any orders.

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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