The Turkish Riviera: a strategic battlefield in combating counterfeiters
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The Turkish Riviera: a strategic battlefield in combating counterfeiters

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Street view in the Kas old town with boutique shops at evening, Turkey

Barış Kalaycı and Begüm Soydan Sayılkan of Gün and Partners explain why trademark infringers have flocked to a popular part of the Turkish coast, and suggest what should be done in response

With a coastline of almost 9.000 kilometres and more than 550 Blue Flag beaches, Turkey welcomes millions of domestic and foreign tourists each summer. The most popular area for holidays is the Turkish Riviera, encompassing the cities of Antalya and Muğla, in particular, and some parts of Aydın and Izmir, highlighting the main districts of Alanya, Antalya, Kemer, Fethiye, Marmaris, Bodrum, Kuşadası, and Çeşme, from the south to the west coast of Turkey.

Even though the total number of tourists decreased due to COVID, the pandemic changed everybody’s lifestyle and strengthened the concept of working from home, and, as a result, there has been increased movement from cities to small towns, including in the districts in the Turkish Riviera, in recent years.

A large number of people have also moved to districts in the Turkish Riviera because of massive earthquakes in Turkey, the effects of the Russia–Ukraine war, and migration from the Middle East. Furthermore, with tourism having diversified in recent years, these districts have become more and more popular, providing resorts for golf, football camps, etc.

An area ripe for infringement activity

With the increase in population, infringers took this as an opportunity and expanded their activities. Some of the infringers have moved their production sites and warehouses to these areas and most of them continue with sales of counterfeit products not only in the summer but all the seasons. The increase in the number of visitors arriving with the purpose of counterfeit shopping has also encouraged the infringers. Lately, many counterfeits of famous brands have been observed in almost all sectors, from textiles to electronics, sometimes even more than are available in the cities.

Therefore, it is particularly important to understand the sectoral factors and take action against the infringers at an early stage. For instance, in terms of textile products that will enter the market in the summer, it is advisable for brand owners to target the production sites and warehouses first without waiting for the summer, to prevent the distribution and sales of counterfeit products to the internal market, as well as to other countries. Similarly, in terms of winter shoes, brand owners are advised to address the production sites and warehouses during the summer.

With regard to retail stores, on the other hand, it is advisable to continue the actions throughout the year, to give a strong message to the domestic market of active combating and to decrease the visibility of counterfeit products.

Turkish legal practice in tackling counterfeiters

While combating the counterfeiters on the southwest coast of Turkey, it should be noted that the legal practice in the districts of the Turkish Riviera can also vary from the regular practice in the main cities. While some prosecutors find the invoice and/or other substantial evidence in the complaint showing the production/sales of counterfeits sufficient to request a search and seizure warrant from the judge, others may decide to obtain a police investigation report about the subject of a complaint.

Another essential note is that not all judges issue search and seizure warrants. In some cases, despite the evidence showing the production/sales of counterfeits, judges may simply reject the search and seizure requests and although the rejection decision can be subject to an objection, it can take a couple of months for the higher court to examine the objection and render a decision, depending on its workload. Thus, the timing of complaint submissions is also very important, and each case should be evaluated separately based on the region, sector, and business capacity of the infringers to create a strong strategy specific to the southwest coast of Turkey.

Gün and Partners has a special project targeting infringers on the southwest coast of Turkey, which has been carried out for many years. Considering the needs of a significant number of clients, the firm regularly performs raids in the Turkish Riviera.

Due to the reasons explained above, it is advisable to perform raids in the Turkish Riviera not only in the summer but throughout the year, to actively combat counterfeiters and to decrease the visibility of counterfeit products.

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