Turkmenistan - 5-Protection of Property RightsTurkmenistan - Property Rights
All land is owned by the government. The 1993 Law on Property defines the following types of property owners: private, state, non-government organizations, cooperative, joint venture, foreign states, legal entities and citizens, international organizations and mixed private and state. A small number of dwellings have been privatized, allowing Turkmenistan’s citizens to rent and sell apartments and houses. The Law on Privatization of State Housing came into force in January 2014. The October 2007 amendments to the Land Code provide for up to 40-year land leases for hotels and recreational facilities in National Tourist Zones. Land and facilities subsequently built on the parcel must be transferred to the state after the expiration of the contract. According to the Law on Foreign Investment, foreign investments in Turkmenistan are not subject to nationalization and requisition; foreign properties may be confiscated only following a court decision. However, this law is not respected in practice.
Banks provide preferential mortgage loans (annual interest rate of 1% for up to 30 years with five years grace period) for buying new apartments. Only government employees qualify for such concessional loans. In addition, the state agencies/employers can also pay 50% of the price of the new apartment for their employees, if their financial positions are strong enough to do so. Before mid-2015, the banks also provided mortgage loans (with an annual interest rate of 7-8% for up to 10 years) for housing in locations other than so-called “elite” apartments. Liens are not common in Turkmenistan, in part because the 30-year mortgage payment dates have not expired for most of the apartments bought since the country’s independence in 1991.
Intellectual Property Rights
The legal structure to protect the IP is strong, the enforcement is poor, and the infringement on rights and theft is common. The government has enacted laws designed to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) domestically, but these laws are either arbitrarily implemented or not implemented at all. Among them are the Law on Publishing (2014), Law on State Policy on Research and Technology (2014), Law on Inventions and Industrial Samples (2008), Law on the Protection of Scientific Research (1993), the Patent Law (1993), the Law on Inventions and Industrial Designs (2008), and the Law on Trade and Service Marks and Places of Origin (2008). These regulations provide legal protection to intellectual property registered with the Patent Agency, which was established in 1993. However, due to significant deficiencies in Turkmenistan’s intellectual property protection regime, Turkmenistan has been on the United States government’s Special 301 Watch List since 2000.
The Law on Foreign Investment guarantees the protection of intellectual property of foreign investors, including literary, artistic and scientific works, software, databases, patents and other copyrighted items. Turkmenistan has not yet adopted more explicit and comprehensive administrative and civil procedures and criminal penalties for IPR violations. In 2012 Turkmenistan adopted a law on copyright and related rights. The 1993 Most Favored Nation Agreement between the United States and Turkmenistan also provides for favorable treatment of copyrighted materials.
The following table presents the major international IPR treaties that Turkmenistan has signed:
|Berne Convention||Accession: February 29, 2016||May 29, 2016|
|Hague Agreement||Accession: December 16, 2015||March 16, 2016|
|Nairobi Treaty||Accession: December 16, 2015||January 16, 2016|
|Locarno Agreement||Accession: March 7, 2006||June 7, 2006|
|Madrid Protocol||Accession: June 28, 1999||September 28, 1999|
|Nice Agreement||Accession: March 7, 2006||June 7, 2006|
|Paris Convention||Declaration of Continued Application: March 1, 1995||December 25, 1991|
|Patent Cooperation Treaty||Declaration of Continued Application: March 1, 1995||December 25, 1991|
|Strasbourg Agreement||Accession: March 7, 2006||March 7, 2007|
|Vienna Agreement||Accession: March 7, 2006||June 7, 2006|
|WIPO Convention||Declaration of Continued Application: March 1, 1995||December 25, 1991|
But Turkmenistan has not signed the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)’s 1996 Copyright Treaty, the 1996 WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (collectively known as the WIPO Internet treaties), or the 2000 Patent Law Treaty. In August 2015, Turkmenistan adopted an Action Plan for the Development of an Intellectual Property System in Turkmenistan for 2015-2020, and the plan includes a section on the role of IPR in attracting foreign investment into the country. However, it is still a challenge to purchase legally recorded material in Turkmenistan. Border enforcement of IPR material is weak, allowing pirated goods to cross easily into Turkmenistan for sale. Additional personnel and training courses are needed for more effective border enforcement. Turkmenistan’s laws do not provide for either civil or criminal ex-parte search procedures needed for effective anti-piracy enforcement.
Turkmenistan signed the WIPO’s documents on industrial property rights and patent cooperation in 1995. Turkmenistan has also joined the Eurasian Patent Organization created as part of the WIPO for CIS countries. The Copyright Law was enacted in 2000 as part of Turkmenistan’s Civil Code. This law defines copyrighted products and the rights of owners of the copyrighted products, and it provides for their legal protection. In January 2012, the law was amended to include IPR-related provisions, including exclusive rights (absolute title), licensing agreements, and the collective management of ownership rights. There is a Patent Department in the Ministry of Economy and Development, which issues patents on intellectual property but does not enforce copyright laws. In November 2014, the government enacted a new Law on Publishing that establishes the legal basis for oversight of publishers, manufacturers, distributors and consumers of printed materials. The law states that illegal reproduction of printed materials and other violations of intellectual property rights of the publisher will carry monetary penalties and allow for full recovery of losses incurred, including lost income. Article 153 of the Criminal Code details the criminal penalties for IPR-related violations. Currently articles such as videos, cassette tapes, software, and literature are freely copied and sold. In general, products manufactured by government-owned entities increasingly dominate local markets and are well-protected by law enforcement bodies. Counterfeit goods constitute a significant share of most consumer goods including imported textile products, footwear and electronics. There is no publicly available information or estimate on any seizure, storage and destruction of counterfeit goods. Nearly all counterfeit products are imported from abroad and there is no information available to verify the working conditions in production and sale of these products. Most software used is unlicensed, including in government ministries. Turkmenistan is not listed in USTR’s notorious market report. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles.
A private law firms list can be found at the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan website.
Embassy POC: Economic-Commercial Section: trade-Ashgabat@state.gov
Turkmenistan Economic Development and Investment Law