This Blog post was co-authored by Tugce Guven.
On September 27, 2017, the Ministry of Customs in Turkey held its final seminar in the project started in March 2016 titled “Protection of IP Rights Before Customs.” In its final meeting, Ms. Evgeniya Tabova, team leader of the project and the European Union Delegation, and Mr. Cenap Asci, Undersecretary to the Ministry of Customs, summarized the benefits of the project as a result of the cooperation of the Turkish Ministry of Customs and European Union. A strong emphasis was made on the importance of the joint activities that resulted as part of the cooperation and the impact that the new Turkish IP Code. Finally, Mr. Kenneth Wright, an expert on the European Union, presented on “The Contribution of IPR to World Economies and the Damages of Counterfeiting.”
Following the three opening speeches, a panel discussion focused on different aspects of Turkish trademark law. Topics included: the advantages and challenges of registration to the market; brands and the Turkish economy; the enforcement of rights and fighting against counterfeiting; and future plans and expectations. Esteemed panelists included high-level officers from top Turkish firms in a variety of industries: Mr. Mustafa Kucuk, as CEO of LC Waikiki Magazacilik Hiz. Tic. A.S. (LC Waikiki is a firm acting in the “ready-made clothing” sector); Mr. Burak Ovunc, as CEO of FLO Magazacilik ve Pazarlama A.S. (FLO is a firm acting in the “footwear” sector); Mr. Tankut Turnaoglu, as CEO of P&G (Procter & Gamble) in Turkey; Mr. Ahmet Yanıkoglu, as CEO of A.S. Watsons Group (Watsons is a firm acting in beauty and care retail sector); Mr. Cemil Tokel, as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Pasabahce Cam San. ve Tic. A.S. (Pasabahce is a firm acting in the glass sector). These esteemed speakers spoke about their companies from past to present, emphasized the importance of their companies’ brand values, and discussed different strategies used to combat counterfeiting.
Mr. Bulent Tufenkci, Minister of Customs and Trade, emphasized the importance of IPR and discussed the issue of geographical indications in Turkey. Mr. Tufenkci stated that customs will not tolerate any counterfeiting in Turkey and that they are determined to combat counterfeiting. Mr. Tugenkci emphasized the fact that the brand value of the country can increase as long as there is a strong fight against counterfeiting and piracy. Mr. Tufenkci also shared the seizure statistics of Turkey and how they have improved since 2014. Mr. Tufenkci stated that in 2014, there were 196 seizures; in 2015, there were 431 seizures; in 2016, there were 447 seizures. Mr. Tufenkci expects the number of seizures to continue to increase in 2017.
The project was launched on March 7, 2016, and was split into two components: 1) training activities and 2) awareness activities. Under component 1, study visits were conducted to the United Kingdom, Portugal, and Hungary. During these visits, 28 representatives of the customs administration were familiarized with the experiences of their EU counterparts in implementing the EU customs legislation. Additionally, under component 1, three regional seminars were held. The first, held in November 2016, focused on the “Intellectual and Industrial Property System in Turkey-Achievements and Challenges”; the second, held in March 2017, focused on “New Law on Industrial Property from the Perspective of Enforcement of IP Rights”; and the third and final seminar, held in July 2017, focused on “Current Trends in Counterfeiting and Piracy.” In total, there were over 380 customs officers, police officers, judges, prosecutors, and right holders who attended the seminars. Finally, under component 1, eleven service training events were organized around Turkey, which included: Ankara, Istanbul, Bursa, Mersin, Antalya, Izmir, Trabzon, Gaziantep, Mardin, Sakarya, and Edirne Customs. In total, 550 customs officers were trained on IPR enforcement as a result of these trainings.
Under the second component, two IPR seminars were held. The first was in December 2016 in Ankara, which focused on “Intellectual and Industrial Property Rights Protection System in Turkey,” and the second was held in September 2017 in Istanbul on “Trademarks in Turkey and Their Role for the Turkish Economy.” Over 500 representatives of government institutions, such as the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, as well as judges, prosecutors, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations and private sectors attended the seminars and discussed various IPR issues. In an effort to raise awareness, 3000 posters and 10,000 brochures targeting various societal groups were published and distributed.
INTA’s participation in the project and support of the efforts of the EU and Turkish Ministry of Customs provided a good opportunity to increase collaboration with the customs