Are we there yet?
Well, it seems we are… Almost.
When the Industrial Property Code No. 6769 came into force on 10 January 2017, many IP practitioners were pleasantly surprised to read that interested third parties could now seek the cancellation of a trademark registration before the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office (“TÜRKPATENT”) according to the provisions of Article 26(2). This was a major development because until then a cancellation request could only be filed before a civil court at the jurisdiction of the registrant. Türkiye has established specialized IP Courts in its various cities; however, this is not the case with all 81 of them. Although a large portion of Turkish business life is established in and around Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, which have IP Courts, there were cases when an interested third party was faced with the challenge of pursuing a civil action in a rural part of the country where there are no IP Courts and civil court judges are relatively inexperienced in IP matters. One may think that a cancellation action is a straightforward matter, and therefore, lack of experience in IP should not be a major concern; however, experience has taught us that there are always surprises in the practice of law!
Despite the current difficulties in pursuing a cancellation action, it is also true that the tool is relatively less needed since one of the other changes implemented by the IP Code – and became effective as of the date of enactment – was the ability for an applicant to request evidence of use of an opponent’s registered trademark in Türkiye. Theoretically speaking, this tool, at least, prevented or resolved some disputes where the registered trademark was not in use.
Thus, the fact that TÜRKPATENT, who is already highly experienced in reviewing and deciding on evidence of use of trademarks, would review cancellation actions was considered to be a very positive development. However, there was a catch! TÜRKPATENT would start hearing cancellation requests seven years after the enactment of the IP Code in accordance with the provisions of Article 192.
Well, time sure goes fast when you are having fun (or not, when you are under quarantine!), and the expiration of the 7-year term is about 15 months away. There were some rumors that TÜRKPATENT could seek an extension to this term; however, at the most recent meeting with trademark and patent agents, TÜRKPATENT clearly stated that there was going to be no extension and that they would start accepting cancellation requests as of 10 January 2024. We share the view that it is a very positive development that the authority to hear cancellation actions pass on to TÜRKPATENT as courts already have a significant workload across the country. We believe that TÜRKPATENT already has the necessary experience to deal with these requests and the necessary resolve to complete any missing framework or personnel during the remaining time.