Q&A on IP Litigation and Prosecution in Turkey Following the Precautions Concerning the COVID-19 Outbreak
Turkey has implemented a series of precautions in order to reduce the risk of contamination of COVID-19 virus. Here are the recent measures taken with respect to the judicial and administrative procedures:
1. Will the Court continue with their regular works scheduled?
For the time being, the Courts are still operating and continue to accept all filing and submissions. However, as per the Communiqué published by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (“The Council”) on the March 13, 2020, it advised to postpone all hearings and discoveries, except for the matters concerning the detention and urgent matters.
The IP Courts in Istanbul and Ankara as well as the District Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court have decided to postpone all hearings in March to a future date. It seems that this practice will continue for April 2020 as well.
2. Are the regular deadlines (e.g. for petitions) extended?
On March 26, 2020, an omnibus bill (the Law) was passed and published on the Official Gazette, which includes miscellaneous amendments into the existing laws of the Republic of Turkey. One of the most crucial amendments was brought forth by the 1st Provisional Article of the Law allowing the suspension of all judicial deadlines.
Accordingly, all deadlines deriving from the Civil Procedural Law, Administrative Procedural Law and the Criminal Procedural Law are all retroactively suspended as of (including) March 13, 2020 until April 30, 2020.
Furthermore, the deadlines deriving from the Bankruptcy and Execution Law or determined by the judges or execution officers to this aspect, as well as the deadlines for the institution of execution proceedings or for the on-going execution and bankruptcy proceedings, except for the ones related to alimony claims, are all retroactively suspended as of (including) March 22, 2020 until April 30, 2020.
3) Are there any exceptions to the above?
There are a few the exceptions determined by the Law. As such, the following deadlines shall not be affected by the Law:
- deadlines for the expiration of statute of limitations on crimes, offenses, administrative sanctions or detention,
- deadlines for the preventive measures determined by the Criminal Proceedings Law,
- deadlines for the preliminary injunctions determined by the Civil Proceedings Law
4. Is it possible to obtain search and seizure warrants via criminal complaints?
The Public Prosecutors continue working from office. However, given the Communiqué published by the Council and considering all deadlines of Criminal Procedural Law are suspended by the Law, they will likely be inclined to give the priority to the detention cases. Therefore, it is safe to assume that there will not be raid and seizure operations related to IP matters for the time being.
5. Will the Customs Directorate continue to work during these measures?
The Turkish Customs Directorates continue to work in their normal course. We will continue to receive decisions of suspension from the customs.
6. What is the current status of the applications for customs recordal?
As the customs recordal applications for IP rights are conducted through the online system of the Turkish Ministry of Trade, they remain unaffected by the outbreak measures. Therefore, we are entitled to file new applications or renew the existing one through the online system. Still, the deadlines for the renewals of the customs recordal have been suspended by the Law as well.
TURKISH PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE
7. Is there any announcement and any suspension or postponement by the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office (TURKPATENT)?
Yes. A first official announcement was made on March 16, 2020 on the TURKPATENT’s website, in which it has been declared that face to face communications with the officials have been suspended and visitors will not be accepted to the TURKPATENT for a temporary period.
More recently, on March 27, 2020 the TURKPATENT announced on its website that it will be postponing all deadlines to avoid loss of rights, in accordance with the new Law passed and published on the Official Gazette, which includes miscellaneous amendments into the existing laws of the Republic of Turkey, including the IP Code. In accordance with the recently passed Law, the deadlines at the TURKPATENT are all retroactively suspended as of (including) March 13, 2020 until April 30, 2020.
8. How will updated deadlines be calculated?
The Law provides that that the deadlines between March 13, 2020 and March 27, 2020 (i.e. within 15 days or less of the start of suspension of deadlines) will be automatically postponed to May 15th, 2020.
All deadlines falling between March 28, 2020 and April 30, 2020 are suspended and the time will start to run again as from May 01, 2020. Namely the number of days starting from the suspension date (March 13, 2020) shall be added to the final date of suspension (April 30, 2020).
In accordance with this provision, the minimum extension for the deadlines before the TURKPATENT ending in March will be May 15, 2020.
Moreover, as usual, if the new deadline falls on a non-working day on which TURKPATENT is not operating, the period shall be extended to the first day on which TURKPATENT is operating.
It is to be noted that although deadlines are postponed for avoiding any loss of rights, TURKPATENT is currently operating as usual (with staff working remotely) and therein any petition submitted will be processed.
9. Which deadlines are suspended?
The Law automatically suspends all deadlines related to creation, use or termination of right, such as but not limited to;
- Time deadlines for submitting a response to the office actions;
- Time deadlines for paying the official fees including annuity and renewal fees;
- Time deadlines for filing oppositions and objections.