Criminal complaints against alleged traders in counterfeits may be considered unfair competition if the allegation cannot be confirmed. This recent decision by a Turkish court could have far-reaching consequences for rights holders.

In Turkey, right holders might have to apply special caution when filing criminal charges against alleged counterfeiters: According to a current ruling by a court of appeals, a criminal raid order initiated by a third party can be considered unfair competition if the order is revoked subsequently. Right holders filing complaints against suspicious traders could therefore face civil law actions if their allegations cannot be confirmed.

The ruling was triggered by a sole distributor’s criminal complaint against a competitor selling products of the same brand, which the plaintiff suspected to be counterfeit. The authorities had initially confiscated the goods in question, but later these proved to be imported originals. The seizure order was revoked and the proceedings were discontinued. Subsequently, the defendant filed a claim for damages against the initial plaintiff.

While the claim had at first been rejected in court, it was now granted by a court of appeal. The court explained its decision by stating that the original complaint and the subsequent seizure were unjustified and caused the defendant to lose proceeds and customers. The criminal complaint in question was deemed an act of unfair competition; it had been filed without pursuing other, more appropriate options first, the court stated. Before filing a raid order request, plaintiffs should consequently make sure that the products in question are indeed counterfeits.

Source: World Trademark Review