The legal framework on intellectual property in Bulgaria includes three levels of legislation:
- international agreements ratified by Bulgaria that became part of its internal legislation;
- national laws and regulations;
- EU legislation (regulations and directives) in the field of intellectual property.
Bulgaria has ratified a number of international acts and treaties on intellectual property including but not limited to:
- Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
- the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property
- the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
- the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the European Patent Convention
- the Madrid Agreement and the Protocol to the Madrid Agreement
Some of the underlying Bulgarian (national) legislation on intellectual property rights includes a number of laws such as:
- the Copyright and Associated Rights Act
- the Patents and Registration of Utility Models Act
- Marks and Geographical Indications Act
- the Industrial Design Act
- the Topography of Integrated Circuits Act
- the Protection of New Plant Varieties and Animal Breeds Act
Patents in Bulgaria
Patents shall be granted for inventions in any field of technology, which are new, involve an inventive step and are capable of industrial application. Protection of an invention in Bulgaria requires the issuance of a patent by the Bulgarian Patent Office. A patent certifies the exclusive right of its owner over the invention. The patent is valid for 20 years from the filing date of the application.
An European Patent issued by the European Patent Office may also be entitled to protection in Bulgaria in accordance with the European Patent Convention.
Another option for protecting an invention in Bulgaria is to follow the procedure set forth by the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
Trademark registration in Bulgaria
The Bulgarian trademark mark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of another which can be represented graphically. Such signs may be words, including the names of persons, or letters, numerals, drawings, figures, the shape of goods or of their packaging, a combination of colors, sound signals or any combination of such elements. The Bulgarian law recognizes the following types of marks: trademark, services mark, collective mark and certificate mark.
The right over a mark is an exclusive right which is obtained by trademark registration in Bulgaria before the Bulgarian Patent Office (BPO). The protection period is 10 years from the filing date of the registration application. It can be renewed for an indefinite number for times (ten-year periods). For more information on filing trademark application in Bulgaria click here.
European Trademark Registration
Bulgaria’s accession to the EU in 2007 allowed the additional protection of a trademark for the territory of the country through the registration of a European trademark with the EUIPO.
The rules and procedures for registration of a European trademark are set forth by Council Regulation (EC) No. 40/94 on the Community Trademarks. The registration of a European trademark in any EU member state grants protection of that trademark in all 27 EU member states through the filing of single application either with EUIPO.
Industrial Design in Bulgaria
Industrial design, in the sense of the Bulgarian Industrial Design Act, means the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the specific features of the shape, lines, contours, ornamentation, colors, or combination thereof. An industrial design is subject to protection if it is new and original.
Similarly to patents and trademarks, the right over a design shall be an exclusive right. This right can be acquired if the design is registered with the BPO. The protection period is 10 years from the filing date of the registration application. It can be renewed for three consecutive terms of five years each.
As with trademarks, an industrial design can be subject to Community-wide protection under the relevant EU legislation, which in the case of designs is Council Regulation (EC) No. 6/2002 on Community Designs.
An industrial design can also be protected through international registration with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization under the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs.
Copyright in Bulgaria
Copyright in Bulgaria is subject to protection of the Copyright and Associated Rights Act. The latter protects any work of literature, art or science, which resulted from the creative activity of its author and is expressed in objectively perceivable manner and form.
The copyright comes into existence from the moment of creation of the work—no registration is needed. In the general case, the copyright lasts for 70 years following the announcement of the work.
The law also protects the associated rights of performers, producer of audio and visual work and broadcasting organizations. Those rights are protected for 50 years.