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27 January 2020
Turkish law regulates online activities under Law 5651 on Regulating Broadcasting on the Internet and Fighting Against Crimes Committed through Internet Broadcasting (the Internet Law). The law includes provisions on the responsibilities of content, hosting and access providers to combat online counterfeiting.
The Internet Law defines 'access provider' as an organisation that arranges internet access for an individual or entity and 'content provider' as an individual or legal entity that produces, modifies and provides all kinds of information or data provided to users through the Internet. Further, the Internet Law defines 'hosting provider' as an individual or a legal entity that provides or operates systems that host services and content.
The Internet Law holds content providers liable for internet content that they provide unless they indicate their intent to provide access to third-party content via a link. The law holds neither access providers nor hosting providers liable for content; however, access providers that receive a copyright infringement notification must block access to infringing content.
Turkish law regulates e-commerce under Regulation 29457 on the Regulation of Service Providers in E-commerce and Intermediary Service Providers. According to the regulation, individuals or legal entities that engage in e-commerce activities are 'service providers', while online marketing platforms that operate e-commerce transactions between consumers and other third parties via the Internet are defined as 'intermediary service providers'.
Intermediary service provider liability is limited and excludes the supervision of content provided by content providers when using intermediary service provider's digital environment. Under the Internet Law, content providers – considered 'vendors' in the case of online marketing platforms – are liable for the content and goods that they provide.
Regulation 29457 does not stipulate content liability for service providers or intermediary service providers. In other words, online marketing platforms are currently exempt from any liability for counterfeit products included in their content or listings unless they receive a copyright infringement notification.
On 15 January 2014 the Supreme Court Civil General Council issued a landmark decision regarding a trademark and unfair competition dispute between L'Oréal and GittiGidiyor (a Turkish online marketing platform owned by eBay). The court held that online marketing platforms which receive a copyright infringement notification must remove the infringing content.
The court ruled that when GittiGidiyor (as the intermediary service provider) received a lawsuit petition, it became responsible for removing of the infringing content. As GittiGidiyor had failed to remove the infringing content following receipt of the copyright infringement, the court considered it jointly liable for the trademark infringement and unfair competition claims.
The fact that existing regulations lack specific content liability for online marketing platforms may inhibit consumers and related third parties from enforcing their rights if they purchase counterfeit products. However, the importance of consumer satisfaction and loss of confidence in the rapid decision-making world of e-commerce could be a much greater issue than managing legal conflicts. Therefore, it would arguably be better to develop quick and effective measures to combat counterfeiting in advance to maximise consumer satisfaction.
For further information on this topic please contact Asli Tireli or Serra Coral at Deriş Patents and Trademarks Agency by telephone (+90 212 252 6122) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Deriş Patents and Trademarks Agency website can be accessed at www.deris.com.tr.
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