Provides advice on IPR protection, including information on the registration of patents and trademarks.
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, your U.S. trademark and patent registrations will not protect you in Bulgaria. There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the entire world.
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. Within two months from filing, the BPO makes a formal examination for the application’s compliance with the Marks and Geographical Indications Act. If the application complies, the trademark is published in the Official Bulletin of the BPO. Within three months of the publication, any third party may file an opposition against the registration. If no opposition is filed during this time, the applicant’s trademark enters into force. The trademark registration procedure takes approximately one year to complete.
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 reviewed within 13 months from the filing date. The patent is valid for 20 years from the filing date of the application.
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.
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 USG 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 law suit. 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. Commercial Service maintains a list of local lawyers - https://bg.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/attorneys/
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 Invest in Bulgaria Agency’s overview of the country’s intellectual property regime is located at https://investbg.government.bg/en/pages/industrial-and-intellectual-property-135.html.
- For information about patent, trademark, or copyright issues — including enforcement issues in the US and other countries — call the STOP! Hotline: 1-866-999-HALT or visit www.STOPfakes.gov.
- For more information about registering trademarks and patents (both in the U.S. as well as in foreign countries), contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at: 1-800-786-9199, or visit https://www.uspto.gov//.
- For more information about registering for copyright protection in the United States, contact the U.S. Cop
- For more information about how to evaluate, protect, and enforce intellectual property rights and how these rights may be important for businesses, please visit the “Resources” section of the STOPfakes website at
- For information on obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights and market-specific IP Toolkits visit: https://www.stopfakes.gov/businesss-tools/country-ipr-toolkits. The toolkits contain detailed information on protecting and enforcing IP in specific markets and also contain contact information for local IPR offices abroad and U.S. government officials available to assist SMEs.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has positioned IP attachés in key markets around the world. You can get contact information below for the IP attaché who covers Bulgaria:
The IP Attaché Contact for Bulgaria
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
Office Telephone: +32 2 811 5308
In any foreign market, companies should consider several general principles for effective management of their intellectual property. For background on these principles please link to our article on Protecting Intellectual Property.
To access Bulgaria’s ICS, which includes information on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statement website.