New common IP rights database: any benefits for trademark owners?
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The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has issued a Regulation on a Common IP Rights Database, which is based on Law 5846 on Intellectual and Artistic Works.
Many IP rights are registered with local or international trademark and patent offices, and are thus protected in case of infringement. However, the situation is different when it comes to copyrighted works: although the owner's rights arise when the work comes into existence, establishing proof of copyright is more difficult than for registered IP rights. In many cases, the copyright owner has difficulties to prove ownership and must provide extensive documentation to demonstrate that it holds the legal rights in the work at issue.
Noting these difficulties, and seeking a way to protect IP rights more effectively, the ministry issued the Regulation on a Common IP Rights Database, which entered into force with its publication in the Official Journal on November 6 2010.
According to the regulation, the General Directorate of Copyrights and Cinema is charged with creating and maintaining a common database where registrations, certificates, labels, production information and other information necessary to identify a work and its ownership will be confidentially stored and regularly updated. The database will not be public, so interested parties wishing to access the database must apply to the ministry (there will have to use secured usernames, passwords and security codes).
At first glance, the new database seems to benefit only owners of works protected under the Law on Intellectual and Artistic Works. However, it may also have implications for owners of unconventional trademarks, such as sound marks and three-dimensional device marks. Indeed, the registration procedure for such marks is generally longer than for traditional word marks. In Turkey, the trademark registration procedure before the Patent Institute usually takes around one-and-a-half years, provided that there are no objections. For unconventional trademarks, this period may increase to two-and-half years, and registration is not assured at the end.
Therefore, the new database may provide owners of unconventional trademarks with a shortcut for obtaining recognition of their ownership of the mark and, therefore, legal protection. While an application for trademark registration is pending before the Patent Institute, the owner of an unconventional mark may also seek copyright protection by applying for registration in the database. This would represent a preliminary step to prevent infringement by third parties and would make it easier for mark owners to obtain the official authorities' protection in case of conflict.
Ceylin Beyli, CBL Law Office, Istanbul
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