Recent Development

Turkey has been waiting for decades to adopt a single, unified law on the protection of industrial property rights.[1] The Law No. 6769 on the Protection of Industrial Property Rights ("Industrial Property Law") passed the Grand National of Assembly on December 22, 2016 and entered into force on January 10, 2017. The Industrial Property Law is the first of its kind, regulating trademarks, patents, designs, and geographical indications under one umbrella.

What's New?

The Industrial Property Law changed the name of the Turkish Patent Institute to the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office; simplifies proceedings; and adopts a more sophisticated system for protection and enforcement of industrial property rights.

The Industrial Property Law offers ground breaking developments, which include but are not limited to incentives for inventors to obtain patents for inventions and better support for R&D activities, abolishing unexamined patents, acknowledging traditional product names together with geographical indications.

Turkey will have a stronger legal environment to combat counterfeiting, as the enforceability of the legal sanctions will be more effective. Prosecution of trademarks and designs will be quicker for instance opposition period for trademarks is shortened to two months from three months and for designs to three months from six months.

As a brand new development, consent letters and co-existence agreements for trademarks will be enforceable, thus the principle of uniqueness for trademarks will no longer prevail. Non-use defense in trademark opposition and enforcement proceedings will be available.

One of the more game changing developments is that the competent authority is changed from the courts to the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office for non-use actions. The effective date this provision, however, is postponed for seven years to enable the authorities to prepare for such a major change. So, until then Turkish courts will remain as the competent authority to deal with non-use cancellation actions. The Industrial Property Law also adopts an "international exhaustion system," contrary to obsolete decrees.

For further information on the upcoming changes in terms of trademark law, please refer to our client alert of April 25, 2016 here.

Conclusion

As we announced in our previous alerts[2], the Turkish Constitutional Court annulled certain provisions of Decree No. 551 and 556 due to their lack of constitutional grounds. While these Decrees survived until 2017, they were inadequate in meeting the needs of modern intellectual property practice. As with many recently introduced laws in Turkey, the Industrial Property Law was prepared in accordance with EU laws and practices. The Industrial Property Law leads the way for substantial changes in Turkey's industrial property rights practice, specifically for patents, utility models, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications.