Northern Cyprus trade and IP enforcement discussions ongoing


Although the referendum of April 24 2004 on the reunification of Southern and Northern Cyprus was unsuccessful, negotiations have begun to lift some of the trade embargoes against Northern Cyprus. As Northern Cyprus's IP enforcement system is unlikely to meet EU standards, Southern Cyprus (known as the Republic of Cyprus) may be prepared to allow indirect trade between Northern Cyprus and the European Union through its official ports and airports.

Northern Cyprus is not internationally recognized as a legal entity and therefore cannot be part of international systems for the protection of IP rights. It has no anti-counterfeiting measures or import and export controls in place to prevent the manufacture, import or export of counterfeit goods. Thus, it is unlikely that large scale direct trade between Northern Cyprus and the European Union will be contemplated until this system is improved.

However, Northern Cyprus, the Republic and the European Union are now in discussions to determine whether indirect trade between Northern Cyprus and the European Union through the Republic's ports and airports is possible. The idea is that products will go through the checks of the Republic's customs authorities and will then be exported or imported through the official channels of the island. It is hoped that, as a result, any potential trade in counterfeit goods will be reduced.

The Republic, now a full member of the European Union, uses a contemporary IP protection system. Trademark rights are particularly well served as it is a member of both the Community trademark system and the Madrid Protocol. In addition, the Republic's customs authorities undertake checks on products that are imported, exported or in transit, which on a preliminary examination appear to violate rights in patents, trademarks, copyrights, geographical indications, industrial designs and classified information.

Tonia Antoniou, Michael Kyprianou & Associates, Nicosia

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