Intellectual property in Bulgaria is protected by:
- acts and regulations;
- international agreements and conventions signed by the Bulgarian government;
- EU regulations and directives
Bulgaria has adopted European directives on the protection of inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and plant varieties. These guarantee that intellectual property protection standards are observed.
Inventions and utility models are protected by the following legislation:
Industrial property rights
The Bulgarian Trademarks and Geographical Indications Act (ZMGO) lays down the provisions for trademarks and geographical indications. This act applies for Bulgarian and foreign companies that have signed international agreements to which Bulgaria is also a party. In all other instances, the law is applied by the patent office when making an assessment.
Intellectual property on industrial designs are regulated by the Bulgarian Industrial Design Act (ZPD).
Industrial design rights have no time limit and cannot be transferred. Protection under this law is applied separately from similar provisions in other Bulgarian legal acts.
If a patent is owned by more than one person, protection is applied jointly. This act is supplemented by the Bulgarian Regulation on Applying Protection.
Bulgaria has the Topology of Integral Systems Act (ZTIS) protecting the combinations of familiar elements and their connections.
Topology protection starts from the date when the applicant starts using it commercially, wherever in the world, provided a proper application has been submitted to the Patent Office within two years of that date.
New plant varieties and animal breeds come under the scope of a specific act. This act also includes a full list of fees charged by the Executive Agency for Plant Variety Testing, Approbation and Seed Control.
Intellectual property protection bodies
The Bulgarian Patent Office carries out expert assessment and makes decisions relating to intellectual property protection. It also issues patents for inventions, certificates for industrial designs, trademarks and service marks, designations of origin and other intellectual property protection-related documents.
Intellectual property protection abroad
Bulgaria has signed a range of international agreements and conventions supplementing national laws and affecting the procedures of companies from countries that are also signatories to these agreements, in addition to some that are not.
Property rights encourage investment in innovation and research.
The first step in protecting intellectual property is to submit an application to the patent office. All administrative procedures are carried out there.
The Bulgarian Patent Office has standard forms for registering petitions. These vary depending on the type of product, and the legal act under which the company wants to be protected.
You must apply for rights in person or authorise a local industrial property representative to do this. If your company is not permanently registered in Bulgaria, you will need to employ a local representative.
E-applications will only be considered if the original copy is presented within one month after submission. The fee must be paid at the Patent Office itself or by bank transfer.
Industrial design procedure
Industrial design rights are obtained by registering at the Patent Office. The documents needed include a registration application with a description of the design and some graphics or photos.
A document showing payment of the fee, a description of the images and other documents must be enclosed with the application. One application may cover more than one design.
International protection of designs. Invention protection
You must submit an application and supporting documents to the Patent Office in order to protect your inventions, and these must be done in Bulgaria. If you would like to issue licences, you will also need to submit a declaration to that effect. Any Bulgarian citizen permanently resident in Bulgaria or a foreign citizen with a permanent residence permit may have to undergo a check regarding access to classified information, within one month of submitting the application.
Trademarks and geographical indications
You do not have to be a producer or commercial enterprise to register trademarks or geographical indications. You have to submit the application directly by post or by fax to the Patent Office. If faxing, you must also send the originals to the Patent Office within 1 month.
Procedure for plant varieties
Protection for plant varieties in Bulgaria is ensured with a certificate that is valid for 25–30 years, depending on plant variety. Applications for these certificates are submitted to the Patent Office.
Protection outside of Bulgaria
Intellectual property protection solely covers Bulgaria. For a product or item to be protected outside of Bulgaria, an additional application must be submitted for international protection.
You can only apply for the international registration of a trademark if it has already been registered in Bulgaria. An application form must be completed when requesting international protection; the procedure takes 14 to 16 months after submission.
The Patent Office can provide a list of intellectual property representatives.
The Bulgarian Department for Intellectual Property Protection offers a wide range of information sources and studies on various types of industrial property. It also provides training courses, including online course, and participation in conferences.
An industrial property network has been set up in Bulgaria, incorporating regional information centres at university level.