IP Sector in Turkey – Interview with Belgin Sagdic
It has been 15 years since you have started to work as a Patent and Trademark Attorney, what kind of developments did you observe in the Intellectual Property field in these 15 years?
There is a significant awareness regarding obtaining and protection of Intellectual Property rights. Moreover, this system that is being enforced by the Statutory Decree has been enforced by Law as of January 2017 and, I believe that this has enabled us to be endowed with protection rights at the international level and that it has had a positive effect on the progression of the system.
In the years that I started to work as a Patent and Trademark Attorney, the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office (TPTO) was not digitally efficient and it did not have productive services; today all of the procedures can be carried out online, 24/7. We have access to software and databases that enables us to digitally reach all past dated applications including those that are older than the foundation of TPTO, and this provides great ease in national and international searches of Trademarks and other Intellectual Property Rights.
Mark bulletins have started to be published twice a month; whereas, when I had started this profession, I had to follow up the bulletins from printed media that was as thick as encyclopedias; and now everything is digital. We can reach the information we need within seconds when we conduct searches.
The frameworks of the mark and patent attorney system are determined better now. Discipline rules and regulations have been prepared in compliance with the Industrial Property Law and by this means; it is enabled for attorneys to inspect each other legally, in terms of ethics, respectability and honesty.
According to you, what is the great effect obtained through the transition from Statutory Decree to Law?
The Turkish people have gained confidence in protecting their Intellectual Property Rights. Their previous thoughts such as “Is it important to make an application? What will I gain?..”, “I cannot protect my rights anyway, I will use my product, as is..” have now been replaced with thoughts such as “I now have legal rights and with this legal right, I have the power to prevent imitators and unpermitted usage of my trademark/patent/design”. Due to this reason, as we are closer to each other globally, not only national, but international protection has also become significant. R&D and Design Centers were created and patent and utility model applications have been encouraged with various government grants. The rights obtained by employees from these inventions are also being protected within this framework. These rights have been enabled to be enforced and organized with contracts; which I believe is one of the most important advantages brought about by Intellectual Property law.
How did Covid19 affect the Intellectual Property sector?
As our occupation is suitable to be carried out at home as home office; we were not affected much from social distancing, however not being able to establish face-to-face communication was a difficult process; and due to social distancing we could no longer arrange Intellectual Property awareness meetings that we held with commerce and industry chambers and organized industrial zones all around Turkey. The online meetings and webinars cannot be deemed as a substitute for the warm communication that we used to carry out face to face…
As Yetkin Patent & Consultancy, we have made applications for many different sectors in comparison to the year 2019; especially patent applications.
So it is a true theory that during a crisis, the number of inventions increases?
True, maybe people realized that they were more creative than they thought and maybe they had more time to think about some issues and exhibit their creativity… We started the licensing period of very different inventions, not only those related to protection from a pandemic. However, among these inventions that drew my attention was that most of the inventions were related particularly to household appliances. We observed that there was a significant increase in inventions that were triggered to adopt new ideas that would make their lives easier, as people stayed at home more and started to use their home appliances more intensively.
What is on your desk?
In terms of trademarks, we are in the process of completing the trademark registration of an Italian motorbike brand in Turkey. We are trying to make foreign companies aware of the fact that distributorship agreements do not protect their trademarks in Turkey if their brand is registered abroad but not in Turkey. Third-party people with a bad intention can register this trademark in Turkey and they can take away the rights of the actual trademark owner. In order to prevent this from happening, such companies need to start their registration process as soon as they plan to enter the Turkish market; and they need to realize that trademark registration is a very different process from making a distributorship or sales agreement.
If we were to take a look at geographical indication, we can say that mulberries which are a benefaction of Anatolia, can be counted as a geographical indication; we have information and knowledge regarding the benefits of especially white mulberry ant its leaves since the Ottoman Explorer, Evliya Çelebi. It has been found following analyses carried out by Malatya Fruit Growing Research Institute that Kemaliye Mulberry was a mulberry that was more healing than any other mulberries in the world. We even have Turkish folk songs that recite the benefits of Kemaliye Mulberry. Nowadays, we are about to complete the geographical sign applications of Kemaliye Mulberry. Besides registering products that are a legacy of nature we are also working on the application process of Artificial Intelligence cleaning appliances.
Can you give us some clues?
For example, a robot vacuum cleaner that has a disinfectant unit; nowadays the dream of every woman! Studies related to technological household appliances that have disinfectant units that provide protection from the pandemic has increased as said appliances are being used intensely in daily life, and we are happy to conduct the necessary procedures to register these products.