Recent news in the Turkish media about the registration of Turkish lokum by another party in European Union and thus the prevention of commercial activities relating to lokum in the Community drew the public's attention to the protection of geographical indications (GIs).
Turkish delight, lokum or loukoum is a soft, jelly-like and sometimes sticky confection made from starch and sugar, often flavoured with rosewater and lemon. It is shaped in small cubes that are dusted with sugar or copra to prevent sticking. It may contain small nut pieces, pistachios, hazelnuts or walnuts.
Although these reports were misleading because the registration was for a special kind of lokum specific to its region, they emphasize the need to stress the importance of protection of GIs Turkey-wide and in Europe.
Protection of GIs is effective under Decree-Law 555 from June 27 1995. This law allows registration for wines and spirits, and also expands the higher level of protection to natural, agricultural, mining and industrial products and handicrafts. The Turkish Patent Institute is the body authorized to register GIs.
Today there are 93 registered GIs in Turkey, ranging from several hand made carpets (Hereke, Bergama, Isparta) to dozens of foodstuffs (Kayseri pastrami, Adana Kebab, Afyon sausage, Ezine cheese, Antep peanut, Kemalpasa desert, Anamur banana) and even several sort of animals (Gemlik Turk horse and Kangal dog). The only registered alcoholic drink is Turk rakisi (Turkish raki).
GIs must satisfy two criteria: there must be a specific quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product attributable to that geographical area, and at least one of the activities of the production, processing or preparation of the product must take place within the geographical area.
Natural or legal persons who are producers of the product, consumers' associations or public institutions related with the product or the geographical region have the right to apply. An application must indicate the name, information about the applicant, general information about the product, the production method, borders of the production area, the link between the product and the area, inspection structure and labelling details.
After an application is filed, formal examination is carried out by the Institute and also checked with an expert impartial organization. It is then published in a National Official Gazette, two highly circulated newspapers and one local newspaper to allow objections. The opposition period is six months from publication. Any objections lead to a further examination being asked for from the expert organization. Finally, an official decision is taken accordingly.
|Ersin Dereligil |
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