For many years, in order to cover any rights pertaining to trademarks, patents, designs, utility models and geographical indications, one had to look at an assortment of decree laws instead of consulting a single, united code. This long lasting disharmony has finally come to an end as of January 10, 2017, with the publication of Industrial Property Law No. 6769 (“IPL”) in the Official Gazette. The IPL introduces many reforms and regulates trademarks, geographical indications, designs and patents in detail and in compliance with European Union regulations. The fundamental reasons for enacting this law are specified in the preamble to the IPL. Establishing a responsive system in order to substantially increase the number of applications for industrial property rights, harmonizing the Turkish legislation with EU Law and abolishing the inconsistencies in the law are the key objectives that led to the establishment of the IPL.
With regard to trademarks, the scale of signs that are intended to be registered as trademarks is considerably expanded through a new basic requirement that such signs must show clear and precise subjects instead of using the previous representation criteria. Moreover, the announcement period for trademark applications has been reduced, so that property rights might be granted within the shortest time possible, as per Article 18 of the IPL. Furthermore, according to Article 5 of the IPL, if a notarized consent letter indicating the consent of the previous trademark owner is submitted to the institute, a trademark application for the said trademark cannot be rejected.
A new procedure has been introduced with respect to applications for design registration and objection. In this context, a simplified and shortened application process has been implemented. As per Article 56 of the IPL, any design will be protected under this law if it is new and distinctive. However, unseen parts of a device are excluded and, therefore, cannot be registered as design under the same article.
Regarding patents, the two-pronged system, (i.e., one patent system with examinations and a separate patent system without examinations) has been eliminated. Moreover, amended articles pertaining to the competence of courts and sanctions, as well as compulsory licensing requirements, superseded the controversial regulation stipulated under the Decree Law on the Protection of Patent Rights No. 551. Accordingly, increase in the number of grounds for compulsory licensing is expected to eliminate the discrepancy and to provide a roadmap for the disputed topics as to whether compulsory licensing is applicable for them. Plus, numerous articles from decree laws has been gathered together and the harmonized set of rules regarding the competence of courts and sanctions have been stipulated. Henceforth right owners under the IPL no longer have to look at an assortment of decree laws to decide which court is competent and which sanction is stipulated for infringements.
Lastly, the IPL brings forth a set of reforms with respect to geographical indications, such as establishing an authorized body to exercise control over issues related to geographical indications. Moreover, a much less costly announcement system has been brought to action through Article 38/5 of the IPL. To this end, applicants are no longer obliged to announce their geographical indications in the Official Gazette (or any gazette with a wide circulation), since a new bulletin has been established in Article 2/ç of the IPL, which is a useful tool for announcing applications of any kind arising from the IPL. The Turkish Patent and Trademark Authority (the amended name of the Turkish Patent Institute, pursuant to Article 2/e of the IPL) manages the bulletin.
In conclusion, industrial property rights have been gathered together in one compact code, along with more comprehensive regulations and operational rules. With the enactment of the IPL, the Decree Law on Protection of Patent Rights No. 551, the Decree Law on Protection of Industrial Designs No. 554, the Decree Law on Protection of Geographical Indications No. 555 and the Decree Law on Protection of Trademarks No. 556 have all been abrogated. On the other hand, it should be noted that the enforcement date of certain articles of the IPL has been postponed and will be entering into force at a later date.