Turkey’s first official diagnosis of COVID-19, which is considered to have begun in China’s Whuan city in December 2019 and which has spread to millions worldwide in the following months, was announced on 11 March 2020. Following the first case reported in Turkey and basically due to sudden increase in the demand for products such as masks, disinfectants, detergents; a direct increase has also been observed in the supply of counterfeit products to the market, which are illicitly manufactured at uncontrolled plants.
With the instruction sent by the Turkish Central National Police to the branch offices for General Security and Anti-Smuggling Divisions in 81 provinces; an efficient fight was commenced against counterfeit cleaning and hygiene products in order to protect public health and within the scope of these activities, counterfeits were seized in March, April, May 2020 in many provinces across Turkey and these products which directly threaten public health were all seized. In March alone, more than 60 tons of counterfeit detergent and disinfectant products were seized only in Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya, Gaziantep and Adana.
Naturally, once these products somehow end up in the market, the consumers cannot obtain the desired results from those while those are sold under the brands that have built up trust among consumers. While consumers’ loyalty to and trust in the relevant brands decrease due to these counterfeit products and also, the public health faces serious risk due to the failure to achieve the protection which is actually desired by consumers.
In this sense; it is of utmost important for the owners of these brands to efficiently exercise their rights vested in them by laws, while combating counterfeit products; to take the necessary measures for the protection of their industrial property rights and to support to the process in this way for protection of public health. Especially during this period, when the countrywide efforts of the law enforcement have increased to combat counterfeiting of products such as disinfectants, detergents, protective materials and of course medicines, the counterfeiting of which would constitute a serious threat to public health, brand owners’ cooperation with the competent authorities is very precious.
It is again of very important for the brand owners to take action without any delay by investigating the intelligence they receive regarding the suspected products, to convey these tips to the law enforcement authorities and to directly participate in the public health operations which are ex officio commenced by these authorities where counterfeits are involved. When the crimes against public health, which are subject to ex officio action and the complaints of brand owners regarding the protection of industrial property rights come together, judicial investigations for two separate crimes shall be commenced against those who are involved in trade of counterfeit products, which would be more deterrent for the infringers.
Within this scope; during this period, when the demand to those products has increased excessively in the market, we advise companies to protect their trademark rights in particular, to cooperate with the law enforcement officers and other competent bodies when necessary and to give support to the efforts of competent authorities by getting involving in the process if counterfeits are determined during the ex officio actions by the law enforcement offices.