Latest Updates Concerning the Customs Due to The Covid-19 Pandemic
Due to the pandemic, time extension can be requested regarding the products suspended in the customs on suspicion of infringement of intellectual property rights.
In these unprecedentedly challenging days that we are experiencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the fact that the judicial and administrative proceedings have been suspended, the operations in the Customs still continue as planned. Although it became harder to take the necessary actions for the products suspended on suspicion of infringement of IP rights, the Customs officials are still performing their duty meticulously through shift work in order to prevent any loss of right.
As is known, upon detection of products which are suspected to be infringing of IP rights during customs inspections, provided that trademark, design, patent, or copyright in question is recorded on the online system of General Directorate of Customs, within the scope of the Article 57 of the Customs Law no. 4458, the subject products can be temporarily seized and suspended by Customs authorities for a period of 10 business days in order for right holders to make necessary examinations.
As the 10-business-day period is not always adequate to receive the required instructions from the right holders residing abroad and initiate the proceedings accordingly, it have been possible to request and obtain time extension from the Customs authorities based on the Article 57/4 of the Customs Law which reads “In case of a justified excuse, pursuant to the request of the right holder, a time extension up to 10 business days can be granted by Customs authorities.”
At this point, we would like to underline that in addition to the Article 57/4 of the Customs Law, in accordance with the Article 31/2 of the Customs Law, upon submission of the documents proving that force majeure or unforeseen events occurred during the suspension, the Customs authorities may grant time extension pursuant to those documents as well. In the subject article, force majeure and unforeseen events are subject the numerus clausus principle and one of them is epidemic diseases.
In this regard, we would like to point out that our request for additional time extension based on Covid-19 pandemic is accepted by Customs authorities and thus, in these days which we are facing difficulties in terms of legal durations, a great convenience is provided for the attorneys.
In today’s conditions, there have been some significant developments to facilitate the legal actions to be taken against suspended products.
Within the scope of newly implemented measures due to the pandemic, we would like to emphasize that Lawyers are no longer required to go to the Courthouse in order to request seizure decision regarding the suspended products and file complaint against suspects. Lawyers can now submit complaint to the relevant Public Prosecutor through online judiciary system and upon the Public Prosecutor’s endorsement of the file, the Penal Judge of Peace can decide on seizure of the suspended products as it deems appropriate. The seizure decision of the Penal Judge can be put in process by means of being sent to the relevant Customs Directorate.
As to the simplified destruction process, the Customs Authorities are exercising due diligence in trying to prevent any loss of right. Under normal circumstances, pursuant to submission of deed of consent consisting of wet-ink signatures of both the right holder and the owner of suspended products, simplified destruction process shall be initiated. Nevertheless, as the parties cannot convene these days to maintain social distancing, simplified destruction can be put in process by a deed of consent which has been separately signed by the parties and sent through e-mail.
In this difficult period, the sensitivity and effort shown by the Customs officials so as to prevent any loss of right and to continue on implementations properly and smoothly is quite promising for the upcoming days.