Hardline stance results in more seizures of counterfeits in transit


Turkish Secretary of State Kursat Tuzmen has announced that since the beginning of 2007 customs enforcement teams have seized hundreds of thousands of counterfeit goods worth €218 million. This is believed to be to the result of the hardline stance taken by the Court of Appeals against transit counterfeit trading, which encourages trademark owners to apply to Customs for seizures.

The Court of Appeals has been rejecting defendants' claims that their goods were merely in transit or that national laws do not apply to products seized in the free trade zone. Instead, the court now treats transit counterfeiters like any other counterfeiters.

The court first ruled against transit counterfeiters in 2004. In the most recent decision on this issue (Case 2005/5247 E, 2006/5336 K, May 8 2006), the court has supported its hardline approach by holding that since the defendant ordered and imported the counterfeit goods without seeking the proper licence, it should have known that its actions would constitute trademark infringement. According to the court, the fact that seized counterfeit goods are not subject to domestic trade does not alter the fact that infringement has occurred. Therefore, the court ordered that counterfeiters must be held liable without considering the nature of the trade and the confiscation of the seized products.

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.

Baris Kalayci, Mehmet Gün & Partners, Istanbul

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