Bulgaria - Country Commercial Guide
Protecting Intellectual Property
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Several general principles are important for effective management of intellectual property (IP) rights in Bulgaria. First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect your IP.  Second, IP is protected differently in Bulgaria than in the United States.  Third, rights must be registered and enforced in Bulgaria under local laws.  For example, U.S. trademark and patent registrations are not recognized under Bulgarian law.

Trademarks:  Registering trademarks in Bulgaria is based on a first-to-file standard.  The trademark registration is initiated through the filing of an application with the Bulgarian Patent Office (BPO).  The application must contain the applicant’s name and address; representation of the mark; list of the goods and services for which the applicant is seeking registration; and receipt certifying the payment of the administrative fees.  A trademark is normally granted within seven months of application filing. Pending applications are published to allow for objections and oppositions.  Within seven days from the expiration of the term of publication, when no opposition or objection has been filed, a decision for registration of the trademark is taken.  The term of validity of the trademark is ten years of the date of filing the application and can be renewed for ensuing periods of ten years. 

Patents:  Patents are  granted for inventions in any field of technology, which are new and are capable of industrial application. A patent certifies the exclusive right of its owner over the invention.  Patent registration in Bulgaria is based on a first-to-file methodology. Protection of an invention in Bulgaria requires the issuance of a patent by the Bulgarian Patent Office.  A patent application must contain in the Bulgarian language the title of the invention and supporting scientific data. A patent application is usually examined within 18 months from the filing date, followed by publication of the patent and a three month possibility for opposition.  The patent is valid for 20 years from the filing date of the application.

Copyrights:  Copyright in Bulgaria is subject to protection of the Copyright and Related 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 announcement of the work. The law also protects the related rights of performers, producers of audio and visual work and broadcasting organizations. Those rights are protected for 50 years.

Recommendations:  While the U.S. Government stands ready to assist, there is little we can do if the rights holders have not taken steps necessary to securing and enforcing their IP in a timely fashion.  Moreover, in many countries, rights holders who delay enforcing their rights on the mistaken belief that the U.S. Government can provide a political resolution to a legal problem may find that their rights have been eroded or abrogated due to legal doctrines such as statutes of limitation, laches, estoppel, or unreasonable delay in prosecuting a lawsuit.  In no instance should U.S. Government advice be seen as a substitute for the responsibility of a rights holder to promptly pursue its case.

It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners.  A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights.  Consider carefully, however, whether to permit your partner to register your IP rights on your behalf.  Doing so may create a risk that your partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end.  Keep an eye on your cost structure and reduce the margins (and the incentive) of would-be bad actors.  Projects and sales in Bulgaria require constant attention.  Work with legal counsel familiar with Bulgarian laws to create a solid contract that includes non-compete clauses, and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions.

It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the U.S. Government cannot enforce rights for private individuals in Bulgaria. It is the responsibility of the rights holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors.  Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Bulgarian law.  The U.S. Embassy, Sofia, maintains a list of local lawyers here: https://bg.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/attorneys/

IP Resources

A wealth of information on protecting IP is freely available to U.S. rights holders.

Some excellent resources for companies regarding intellectual property include the following:

The U.S. Department of Commerce has assigned IP attachés in key markets around the world. 

The IP Attaché Contact for Bulgaria

Rachel Bae

European Union, European Commission and Turkey

Correspondence Address:

U.S. Mission to the European Union (Brussels)

Unit 7600, Box 6100; DPO AE 09710-6100


Office Location:

U.S. Mission to the European Union

Boulevard du Regent 27, BE-1000, Brussels, Belgium

Office Telephone: +32 2 811 5308, E-mail: rachel.bae@trade.gov


In any foreign market, companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For additional information, see articles on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov for more resources.

For additional information on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, visit the U.S.  Investment Climate Statement website.