On March 25, 2020, the General Assembly of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (“National Assembly“) enacted the Provisional Article 1 (“Law“), which was added to the Amendment to Certain Laws No. 7226, within the scope of the COVID-19 support package. The Law suspends the time limits in legal proceedings from March 13, 2020 to April 30, 2020, both dates inclusive.
According to the Law, the time limits of trials; the mandatory administrative application periods; and all periods related to the origination, exercise and termination of any rights are suspended during the specified date range. The Law also covers the periods specified in the Industrial Property Law No. 6769 (“IPL“) and the periods regarding proceedings before the Intellectual and Industrial Property Courts (“IP Courts“) and Turkish Patent and Trademark Office (“TPTO“) are also suspended within the specified date range.
What Does the Law Say?
The Law aims to prevent the loss of legal rights that may arise due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey, and suspends the time limits within this scope. The Law has consequences for intellectual and industrial property law as it has for all fields of material law.
In this context, in terms of the proceedings carried out in IP Courts,
- All time limits regarding the filing of lawsuits, time limits concerning mediation, and time limits regarding the proceedings issued by the judge or provisioned by the legislation of the civil lawsuits concerning IP rights, including the annulment of TPTO Re-Examination Board decisions are suspended.
- According to the Law, all other measures to be taken in terms of civil and criminal proceedings regarding intellectual and industrial property rights, including the postponement of hearings and negotiations, and the related procedures and principles will be determined by the Cabinet for the Court of Cassation and the Council of State; by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors for first instance courts and regional courts of appeal; and by the Ministry of Justice for justice services.
- Time limits for precautionary measures and interim injunctions, and the time limits regarding the crimes and punishments of criminal investigations or prosecutions due to trademark infringements are excluded from the Law’s scope.
In this context, in terms of the proceedings carried out in the TPTO,
- The time limits provisioned by TPTO or IPL, regarding the registration periods of intellectual and industrial property rights and the proceedings to be carried out in the TPTO following the registration are suspended in accordance with the Law. According to the TPTO’s official statement of March 26, 2020 the followings are suspended:
- All periods regarding registration procedures and fees;
- Trademark opposition periods; and
- All other periods that may cause loss of rights due to a violation.
According to the Law, the right holders and their attorneys are granted the right to perform these transactions that have not been carried out retrospectively for proceedings dated March 13, 2020 and after.
The time limits will start to run the day after the suspension period ends (May 1, 2020). The time limits that expire in 15 days or less as of the suspension period (March 13, 2020), will end in 15 days starting from the day after (May 1, 2020) the suspension period ends (May 15, 2020).
The Law regulates that if the pandemic continues, the President of the Turkish Republic can extend the suspension period once and narrow its scope. This extension period cannot exceed six months.
The measures taken to suspend the time limits in legal proceedings aim to prevent loss of rights in the proceedings before the IP Courts and the TPTO due to the pandemic. The Law provides the necessary measures to protect intellectual and industrial property rights.