Three brand owners cooperate with IP Police Squad to carry out anti-counterfeiting raid


In September 2012 three brand owners conducted a collective raid against counterfeiters in the Istanbul Grand Bazaar, which, as one of the most touristic areas of Istanbul, has always been popular for counterfeiting activities. There have been numerous attempts to stop such activities in the Grand Bazaar, but individual attempts by brand owners were not sufficient to create a strong impact on counterfeiters.

This time, the three brand owners in question relied on a well-organised preparation stage. The preparation stage, which took almost a month to complete, consisted in detailed investigations and test purchases at the address of each infringer. After all the evidence was gathered and all possible addresses were determined, the specialised IP Police Squad took the lead, together with the local police, and simultaneously conducted raids in 15 different places. The raid was conducted by around 60 police officers, 15 lawyers, five paralegals and 20 assistants. The raid was very successful and had a significant impact among infringers at the Grand Bazaar.

This latest raid shows that, instead of carrying out many individual actions, a single, well-organised raid is a much more effective course of action. The key for brand owners is to cooperate effectively with the IP Police Squad, as this specialised police team provides enormous support in several respects - most importantly, it provides a secure environment during the raids. Without the cooperation of the IP Police Squad, such a large-scale raid would not have been possible.

The specialised IP Police Squad was created in 2003 by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, following the creation of the specialised IP courts in 2000; the aim was to have a specialised police force in IP enforcement proceedings. Over the years, the IP Police Squad has expanded great effort to support brand owners, and there has been a very effective cooperation between the squad and brand owners in combating counterfeiting.

For example, in April 2010 the IP Police Squad, on its own initiative, conducted the biggest raid ever carried out in Turkey, known as 'the Grand Bazaar raids'. Individual attempts by brand owners usually failed, as counterfeiters were somehow alerted of the planned raids. However, to achieve this result, the IP Police Squad blocked all communications with the counterfeiters in the Grand Bazaar.

Apart from the fact that this was the biggest anti-counterfeting raid ever carried out in the country, this was also the very first action of the specialised IP Squad of the Istanbul Police in which the latter took the initiative to conduct the raid action, without waiting for a complaint by a trademark owner. This is important because, under Turkish Law, the police does not normally have the authority to conduct a raid ex officio; trademark owners must apply to the Public Prosecutor to obtain a search warrant, under which the police can intervene. However, in this case the IP Police Squad did not act solely on the basis of trademark law, but also on the basis of the fight against organised crime, as it determined that the 'craftsmen' in the Grand Bazaar formed an illegal organisation; this allowed the IP Police Squad to act ex officio.

This initiative of the IP Police Squad had an important impact in counterfeiting circles. Brand owners, on the other hand, supported the IP Police Squad during the preparation stage and, after the raids, provided the financial resources necessary to hire warehouses to stock the counterfeit products.

In December 2011 the IP Police Squad conducted a new raid in Istanbul. This time it determined that counterfeiters had established a network and that they prevented brand owners from obtaining search warrants; most importantly, they hired insiders who alerted them of the raids. The IP Police Squad, on its own initiative, asked the Istanbul Public Prosecutor to start an investigation, during which the squad revealed the structure of the organisation and found the counterfeiters' business places and warehouses. Following the investigation stage, the IP Police Squad conducted raids at hundreds of addresses.

In 2012 the Istanbul IP Police Squad, having uncovered the existence of a new counterfeiting gang in various Turkish cities, led an anti-counterfeiting operation in cities such as Istanbul, Izmir and Antalya. Again, the IP Squad started the investigation ex officio: it asked colleagues in each city to assist it in finding the members of the criminal network and conducted raids at hundreds of addresses in three cities. Over one million counterfeit products were seized.

The raid campaign conducted by the IP Police Squad between 2010 and 2012, during which millions of counterfeits - mostly textile goods - were seized, is the biggest and most effective campaign ever carried out. The IP Police Squad and brand owners have created a mutually supportive relationship in the fight against counterfeiting; its efficiency was proven once again with the latest raid in September 2012. It seems fair to say that the formula for a successful raid is the effective cooperation between the specialised IP Police Squad and brand owners.

Barış Kalaycı and Hande Hançar, Mehmet Gün & Partners, Istanbul

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