Intellectual property - Bulgaria
Intellectual property in Bulgaria is protected by:
- laws and regulations ;
- international agreements and conventions signed by the government;
- EU regulations and directives.
Bulgaria has adopted European directives protecting inventions, trade marks, industrial design and plant varieties. This guarantees that intellectual property protection standards are observed.
Inventions and utility models are protected by the following legislation:
Industrial property rights
The Marks and Geographical Designations Act (ZMGO) deals with trade marks and geographical designations. It applies to Bulgarian and foreign companies which have signed international agreements which have also been signed by Bulgaria. In all other instances, an assessment must be carried out by the patent office.
Industrial design rights are covered by the Industrial Design Act (ZPD).
Industrial design rights have no time limitation and are non-transferable. Protection under this law is applied separately from similar provisions under Bulgarian law.
If a patent is owned by more than one person, protection is applied jointly. The law is supplemented by the Regulation on applying protection.
The Bulgarian Integrated Circuit Topology Act (ZTIS) protects combinations of known elements and how they are interconnected.
The topology of an integrated circuit is protected from the date on which the applicant starts using it commercially, regardless of where in the world, if a proper application has been submitted to the Patent Office within two years of that date.
New plant varieties and animal breeds are covered by a specific act. The act also includes a full list of fees charged by the Executive Agency for Testing Plant Varieties and Seed Approval and Control.
Intellectual property agencies
The Bulgarian Patent Office is responsible for assessing and deciding on matters related to intellectual property protection. It also issues patents for inventions and certificates for industrial design, trade marks and service marks, designations of origin and other documents concerned with intellectual property protection.
Protecting intellectual property abroad
Bulgaria has signed a raft of intellectual property agreements and conventions which supplement national law and affect the procedures of companies from other signatories, as well as some which have not.
Property rights encourage investment in innovation and research.
The first step in protecting your intellectual property is to submit an application to the Patent Office, which is responsible for carrying out all the administrative procedures.
The Bulgarian Patent Office has standard forms for registering a claim. These vary depending on the type of product, and the law under which the company wants to be protected.
You must apply in person or through an authorised local industrial property representative. If your company is not permanently registered in Bulgaria, you will need to employ a local representative.
Electronic applications will only be considered if the original application is handed in within one month following the electronic submission. The fee must be paid in the Patent Office itself or by bank transfer.
Industrial design procedure
Industrial design rights are acquired by registration with the Patent Office. The documents required include an application for registration containing a description of the design and graphics or photographs.
The application must be accompanied by a receipt to show that the fee has been paid, a description of the drawings and other documents. One application may cover more than one design.
You have to submit an application and accompanying documents to the Patent Office to protect your inventions, which must be done in Bulgaria. If you wish to issue licences, you also need to submit a declaration to that effect. Any Bulgarian national with permanent residence in Bulgaria or an alien with a permanent residence permit may have to undergo a test regarding access to classified information within one month of submitting the application.
Marks and geographical designations
You do not have to be a manufacturer or a commercial enterprise to register marks and geographical designations. Applications may be sent directly to the Patent Office by mail or by fax. If you fax it you will also need to send the originals to the Patent Office within 1 month.
Procedure for plant varieties
Plant varieties in Bulgaria are protected by certificates which are valid for 25-30 years, depending on the variety of plant. Applications for certificates must be made to the Patent Office.
Protection outside the country
Intellectual property protection applies only in Bulgaria. To protect a particular product or item outside Bulgaria, you will have to apply for international protection.
You can only apply for the international registration of a trade mark if it has already been registered in Bulgaria. You will need to fill in an application form for international protection: the procedure takes 14 to 16 months from the time of submission.
The Patent Office can provide a list of intellectual property representatives.
The Bulgarian Department of Intellectual Property Protection has a comprehensive range of sources of information and studies about various kinds of intellectual property. It can also provide training courses, including online courses, and organise conferences.
An industrial property network has been set up in Bulgaria, incorporating regional information centres at university level.
Check also the legislation on this topic in: