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15 October 2007
The Turkish Court of Appeals takes a hardline stance against transit counterfeit trading and seizes any counterfeit goods at Customs, even if they are not intended to be sold inside the country and the counterfeiters are simply using Customs for transit purposes. Moreover, the court will rule in favour of the trademark owner, even if the counterfeit goods are found in a free trade zone and may thus be deemed not to have entered the country.
In several high court decisions a defendant's claim that it was merely transit trading or that national laws do not apply to products seized in the free trade zone were rejected and transit counterfeiters were treated like any other counterfeiters. In the most recent decision, the high court supported its opinion by holding that since the defendant ordered and imported the counterfeit goods without seeking the proper licence, as a prudent trader it should have known that its actions would constitute trademark infringement. According to the court, not being subject to domestic trade does not alter the fact that infringement has occurred; thus, once the infringing products are seized at Customs, infringement has occured. Therefore, the court ordered that counterfeiters must be held liable without considering the nature of the trade and the confiscation of the seized products.
Such decisions have affected customs applications and increased the number of counterfeit products seized. Secretary of State Kursat Tuzmen recently announced that since the beginning of 2007 customs enforcement teams have seized large numbers of illegal products, including hundreds of thousands of counterfeit goods worth €218 million.
Although it is not yet possible to alert the entire Turkish customs system by filing a central application through the Ministry of Customs, the amendment of the Customs Regulation in 2002 means that owners of trademarks, patents, designs and copyrights are now entitled to protect their IP rights by filing applications with specific customs teams. By filing monthly renewals they can obtain year-long protection.
For further information on this topic please contact Barış Kalaycı at Mehmet Gün & Partners by telephone (+90 212 354 00 00) or by fax (+90 212 274 20 95) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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