There have been some major changes to the trade mark law in Turkey recently. A new law was accepted on 22 December 2016 and entered into force on 10 January 2017. Some of the key changes are discussed below.
From a formalities perspective, the opposition period has now been reduced from three months down to two months, giving potential opponents less time to challenge new applications. Substantively, colour and sound marks can now be filed as trade marks in Turkey. Moreover, the removal of the requirement for trade marks to be represented graphically and reproduced by printing has also paved the way for registered protection for motion marks.
From a conflict with third parties point of view, owners of earlier trade marks can now consent to the registration of later filed trade marks, giving applicants the possibility of navigating around conflicting prior rights which might previously have formed an absolute block. Applicants for marks that have been opposed on relative grounds can request that opponents prove use of their earlier marks, and a mediation service will be offered to parties in an opposition. Again, this would seem to make it easier for new applicants to get their marks registered and overcome conflicts.
In terms of infringements, a proprietor shall not be able to prohibit a third party from using a trade mark where the use of that trade mark is necessary to indicate the intended purpose of a product or service, in particular as accessories, spare parts or equivalent parts. And registered rights are no longer a valid defence in infringement claims.
Some of these changes will have an immediate impact on those with an interest in trade mark rights in Turkey, e.g. the filing of colour marks, the opportunity to go to mediation. We must wait to see how other changes, such as citing bad faith as a ground for opposition, would be interpreted and applied by the trade marks office and the courts in Turkey.