The long awaited Law on Industrial Property No. 6769 (the “Industrial Property Law”) was ratified on January 10, 2017. The Industrial Property Law unifies the provisions for trademarks, designs, patents, and geographical indications under a single code. The Industrial Property Law, inter alia, introduces major changes to the protection of designs and enhances the scope of protection to include unregistered designs. With these revisions, the Industrial Property Law is a step closer to being in harmony with international treaties and the European Community legislation on the protection of designs.
What are the Major Changes to the Design Law?
The Industrial Property Law facilitates and expedites the protection and enforcement of design rights. Its provisions were adapted to recent legislative and technological developments. The Industrial Property Law simplifies the definition of design. The previously used term, "industrial design," created the impression that design protection was limited to only industrial designs. The newly adopted term "design" includes industrial designs, graphical designs, fashion designs and architectural designs.
- Mandatory Ex Officio Novelty Examination
New and distinctive designs are entitled to protection. To ensure the protection of unique designs, the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office will conduct ex officio novelty examinations.
- Opposition Period Shortened
The term for filing an opposition against the publication of a design is shortened from six months to three months. Complete and unchallenged designs will be eligible for the ex officio novelty examination.
- Unregistered Designs Allotted Design Protection
Prior to the Industrial Property Law entering into force, unregistered designs were protected by unfair competition principles. Unregistered designs released into the Turkish market for the first time are protected for three years following their release, provided they are new and distinctive. While unregistered designs are entitled to protection without submitting an application, the design owner bears the burden of proof to establish that the design is new. This protection is beneficial particularly for designs in sectors such as textile and packaging, where products quickly become outmoded.
- Protection of Visible Components
The Law will not protect the non-visible components of joint products; it limits protection to components that are new, distinctive and visible in ordinary use.
- Income Distribution in Academic Innovations
The Law states that higher education institutions own the rights of designs created by academics, students and trainees during their employment at said institutions. The Law explicitly regulates the income distribution of these designs and requires the distribution of half of the income generated from the design to the academic, student or trainee who created it.
The Industrial Property Law facilitates the design registration process by shortening the opposition filing term and reducing bureaucratic formalities. The Law broadens the scope of design protection and encourages innovation by requiring compensation for designers employed by higher education institutions.