On April 17 2018 the European Commission released its Key Findings of the 2018 Report on Turkey and the Commission Staff Working Document on Turkey 2018 Report. Chapter 7 of the report is dedicated to Turkey's progress regarding the alignment of its laws with the European Union's IP acquis communautaire. Turkey was praised for its "good level of preparation in this area" and its "good progress on legal alignment with the EU acquis with the adoption and entry into force of the new Industrial Property Law in line with the recommendations made by the previous report".
Prosecution and enforcement of IP rights
The report states that the Industrial Property Law's entry into force was a positive step in aligning trademarks and design legislation with EU IP law and updating Turkey's IP rights system in accordance with international agreements and practices. The establishment of the IP Rights Academy and the introduction of the Regulation on the Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Measures for Trademark and Patent Agents are also cited as positive measures that aim to "address a legal gap with regard to the liability" of agents registered with the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office.
Further, regarding judicial enforcement, the report states that "Industrial Property Law aims to ensure a higher level of legal alignment with the EU Enforcement Directive". According to the report, Turkey has increased customs controls at its borders and, as a result, the quantity of counterfeit goods seized by Customs increased by 35% in 2016.
Room for improvement
Despite considerable progress, the report identifies the following key areas that require improvement:
- There is a lack of specific provisions for biotechnological inventions.
- The draft copyright law has yet to be adopted and the issue of collective rights management in relation to foreign producers, public performance rights and reproduction rights remains to be addressed.
- As regards enforcement, "the implementation of the accelerated destruction procedure and the functioning of IPR criminal courts" require improvement.
The European Union has harmonised rules for the legal protection of IP rights, including copyright and related rights. The rules regarding the legal protection of IP rights cover, for example:
- patents and trademarks;
- biotechnological inventions; and
The rules on the legal protection of copyright and related rights cover, for example:
- computer programs; and
Turkey has made good progress in these areas and in its legal alignment with the acquis communautaire through the adoption and entry into force of the new Industrial Property Law in line with the recommendations made in the previous European Commission report.
In 2018, Turkey should, in particular:
- adopt pending copyright legislation in line with the acquis communautaire;
- improve enforcement measures to combat industrial and intellectual property infringements;
- sustain a constructive dialogue with IP rights owners; and
- increase awareness regarding counterfeiting and piracy and focus on the benefits that a strong IP rights protection system can have on economic growth.
With regard to copyright and neighbouring rights, the draft copyright law has yet to be adopted. Collective rights management is an outstanding issue that the new copyright law should address, particularly regarding foreign producers, public performance and reproduction rights.
The new Industrial Property Law entered into force in January 2017, followed by the relevant implementing regulation in April 2017. The law ensures greater legal alignment with the acquis communautaire regarding trademarks and design and updates the Turkish IP rights system in line with international agreements and practices. Simplified registration procedures were also introduced. However, the new law does not include specific provisions for biotechnological inventions. The IP Rights Academy was set up in July 2017 and is responsible for all IP rights training for civil servants.
In May 2017 the Regulation on the Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Measures for Trademark and Patent Agents entered into force. This regulation aims to address a legal gap regarding the liability of trademark and patent agents registered with the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office. In turn, the office has improved its consultation on trademarks registration services with IP rights owners and their representatives.
As regards judicial enforcement, the new Industrial Property Law aims to ensure a higher level of legal alignment with the EU Enforcement Directive (2004/48/EC). However, actual enforcement needs to be strengthened, as the number of IP rights infringements, as well as counterfeiting and piracy levels, remain high. The implementation of the accelerated destruction procedure and the functioning of the IP rights criminal courts also need to be improved.