37th Vodafone Istanbul Marathon 2015

Are you protecting your company’s patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property (IP) internationally? If not, you’re missing out! The Young Turks of IP, literally in Turkey and figuratively elsewhere, can help you to advance your company’s business interests through better, stronger IP protection. Here’s what’s at stake, with 7 tips on how and when to protect your IP internationally, and a pair of guidelines specific to Turkey.

First-Hand Report from Turkish IP Seminar

On April 7-8, 2016, I attended the 4th Annual AIPPI-Turkey IP Seminar in Istanbul. The seminar was truly international in its participants and in its scope.

Turkey has an impressive body of judges, professors, lawyers, and patent and trademark attorneys. They are interested in and knowledgeable about international IP law. Many are qualified as European patent attorneys and judges. At the same time, the Turkish legal system is impressive in its own right.

At the seminar, I participated in a mock trial on validity, infringement and damages for a version of the Apple slide-to-unlock patent. The trial was conducted under Turkish law, which is similar to European law. I wrote about the Apple slide-to-unlock patent and Apple v. Samsung in a recent article.

We won the mock patent trial

My Turkish co-counsel and I won the mock trial. The mock court invalidated the mock patent. Juries are unknown in Turkey, but the 120 international participants in the seminar acted like a jury in their questions and comments, which deliberation is always insightful.

Young Turks

You might think of “Young Turks” as a metaphor for dynamic young leaders who get things done. You would be correct.

Young Turks get things done

The phrase also is rooted in history: The Young Turks were leaders who cast off the oppressive rule of the Red Sultan. One Mustafa Kemal Atatürk became the President and founder of modern Turkey in 1923. His political, economic, and cultural reforms transformed the Ottoman Empire into a modern, secular nation.

The Turks are young

Here, I say “Young Turks” metaphorically and literally. Turkey’s population is young and rapidly expanding. The country has high birth, fertility and immigration rates, together with impressive economic expansion. It is increasingly attractive to businesses. Its large, urban consumer markets are flourishing.

East meets West

Turkey straddles the continents of Europe and Asia. It is a center for shipping between the Black Sea (Russia, Ukraine) and the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Atlantic. It is an important overland route and the site of major transportation projects for highways, trains, and airports.

Transportation hub

Atatürk International Airport is among the 10 busiest airports in the world. Construction on a third intercontinental bridge, second intercontinental tunnel, and third airport will increase trade and population. “Every bridge brings another 5 million people,” one insightful Turk explained to me.

Biggest city in Europe

Istanbul is already the largest city in Europe. With a population of 15 million people (no one knows for sure), it is one of the largest cities in the world.

Biggest, fastest growing country in Europe

Turkey, with a population of about 80 million people, is about the same size as Germany (the largest country in the European Union), and it is growing much faster.

Another comparison: In 500 A.D., Constantinople (Istanbul) was the largest city of the world with 500,000 people. In 1950, its population was 1 million, a fraction of Chicagoland’s 6 million. Today, it has 15 million people as against Chicagoland’s 10 million.

Leading economy, industries, technologists

Turkey is the 17th largest economy in the world, according to the World Bank. Its industries include electronics, textiles, automobiles, locomotives, shipbuilding, defense, petroleum, steel, and high tech. It has strong universities and graduates in all fields including engineering and sciences.

Chaos means energy

My favorite word for Istanbul is “chaos,” as a Turkish friend puts it, and that is in a good way, expressing the tremendous energy one feels in the city.

Turkish Law, Lawyers & Patent Attorneys

There are over 60,000 lawyers in Turkey (as against 1.2 million in the U.S.) and about 1,000 patent attorneys (as against 40,000 in the U.S.). As with the population generally in Turkey, the bar and the patent bar are young, dynamic, and growing rapidly.

Skilled lawyers and a strong legal system

Justinian, famous for the code that bears his name, ruled Constantinople (Istanbul) in the 6th Century. More recently, Turkey has adopted European legal systems, modeling its civil code after the Swiss, commercial code from the Germans, administrative code from the French, and penal code from the Italians.

A Word About Safety in Turkey

Istanbul is one of the safest cities in Europe and the world, notwithstanding recent terrorist attacks and a flood of refugees and immigrants from Syria and other countries. Security is tight at Atatürk Airport, hotels, and popular sites. Use common sense and avoid the faraway Syrian border area unless you’re willing to take the risks of a humanitarian or medical mission.

Does Turkey Make Your Top 10 IP List?

Turkey probably won’t make the top of your list for investment in IP protection, but neither will it fall to the bottom.

Group 1: The U.S. stands at the top

Especially if your company is American, you’ll pick the U.S. (USPTO) first. Many companies are challenged just to protect their IP in the U.S.

Group 2: EPO, Japan, China, Korea, Canada

If international markets are important to you, your next choices might include the other four members of the IP5European Patent Office (EPO), Japan (JPO), China (SIPO) and Korea (KIPO). Canada (CIPO) is another logical choice.

Your Group 3 might include Turkey

Here is a reason to consider Turkey. When you look at the top economies of the world, you’ll see that many of the IP5 offices are represented, including many of the EU countries. After allowing for those countries, Turkey is the next country on the list that does not require an additional examination. (EPO examination is accepted in Turkey.) In view of its economic importance, it might be an easy decision to validate your European patent in Turkey.

Turkey and Europe

There is an odd thing about the European Patent Office (EPO) (established by the European Patent Convention or EPC). It is not coextensive with the European Union (EU). The latter comprises 28 countries, the former, 38.

Turkey is in EPC but not EU

Turkey is a member of the EPC, but not a member of the EU. Until recently, Turkey was knocking on the door of the EU, begging for admittance. That may happen still. Turkey’s power to control (or stop) the flow of Syrian refugees into the EU has given it new leverage. On the other hand, the woes of the EU have made it less clear that Turkey would benefit from EU membership. Look at the UK’s threat to exit (“Brexit”) the EU.

Europe (but not necessarily EU) is vital to Turkey

Collectively, Europe is by far Turkey’s biggest trade partner. There is a diaspora of several million Turks living in the European Union, the largest number being in Germany, where some are in their third generation.

Unitary patent will not cover Turkey

The unitary patent is about to be unleashed by the EU. It will be issued by the European Patent Office, and it will cover only the EU, which leads to this oddity: You’ll pay for Greece when you want Turkey. See my article Unitary Patent: Why Select Greece When What You Really Want Is Turkey?

Validate your EPO patent in Turkey

When you obtain allowance of an EPO patent application, ask yourself whether exclusive IP rights in Turkey are worth the small price of validation (233 Euros). Requirements for translation (which I have urged the Turkish Patent Institute to drop), “working” of the patent, and annual renewal fees also should be considered.

Get Turkish trademark protection

Similarly, trademark protection in Turkey can be obtained either by filing directly in the Turkish Patent Institute or by filing under the Madrid Protocol.

7 tips for international IP, focusing on Turkey

These seven (7) questions will help you decide whether to obtain international IP (patent or trademark) protection, focusing on Turkey, though generally the same questions can be asked about other countries or regions:

  1. Is Turkey likely to provide revenues or customers for your company?
  2. Do you have business operations—offices, distributors, partnerships or manufacturers—in Turkey?
  3. Is your company’s market growing in Turkey or the region?
  4. Does Turkey have key markets for related platforms (such as apps for smartphones)?
  5. Do you expect to expand into Turkey?
  6. Will your products—or those of your competitors—be shipped through Turkey, by land, air or sea?
  7. Do you want the power to stop counterfeits such as at the Grand Bazaar?

If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, think twice before passing on Turkish IP protection.

Think twice before passing on Turkish IP

2 IP guidelines specific to Turkey

Here are a pair of guidelines specific to Turkey:

  1. If you are filing patent applications in the European Patent Office (EPO), when the patents are ready for grant, register them in Turkey; and
  2. If your company’s products and brands are prone to counterfeiting, register your trademarks in Turkey.

In those circumstances, Turkish patents and trademarks, respectively, can give you a lot of bang for the buck.

Young Turks, literally in Turkey and figuratively elsewhere, stand ready to advance your interests in IP matters.

Conclusion

Think of all the places where you might want IP protection! Now, be realistic. Your first priorities might include the U.S. and the rest of the IP5 (treating the EU as a single block). As you scroll down the list of G-20 major economies, you might be surprised to find that Turkey earns a place on your list.

This article was originally published at Beem on Patents on April 15, 2016. It has been revised to feature a more modern image, showing some of the 100,000 runners in the 37th Vodafone Istanbul Marathon. Thanks to one of our readers for that thoughtful suggestion. The revised article also expands discussion of Young Turks both literally in Turkey and figuratively in other countries. Lastly, a new conclusion is added, with two IP guidelines specific to Turkey.