The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul – one of the largest covered markets in the world – has 60 alleys, nearly 4,000 shops and hundreds of thousands of counterfeit products. Fake Chanel bags, imitation Gucci sunglasses, brand name watches all at bargain prices compared to the official catalog prices.
In some European customs however, there are heavy penalties for bringing in counterfeit goods.
Grand Bazaar is not the only area for counterfeit, in other areas of the city, even the less touristy, shops and market stalls are full of imitations. The fake goods are so common you can almost forget that the sale of counterfeit products is illegal.
Turkish legislation on intellectual and industrial property is nevertheless in line with European and international standards. The only difference is that, unlike most European countries, Turkish legislation does not provide for sanctions for the purchase of counterfeit products for the personal use of consumers. In other words, while manufacturing and marketing without license are considered illegal, the mere purchase for personal use, not commercial, is not illegal.
The law is protecting the consumer however its application has not been very strict on manufacturer either. Turkey has in fact become a hub of counterfeiting; counterfeit manufacturers in the country produce and export products mainly to Africa. According to the OECD stats, Turkey is in the second place in the global counterfeit market after China.
Leather goods, textile, counterfeit perfumes, but also fake drugs, cigarettes, alcohol or car parts are still a thriving business and these make Turkey today, an empire of forgery. An empire that thrives: the most optimistic estimates the amount to one billion dollar per year.