Trade and Service Marks

– Law on Marks and Geographical Indications, in force since December 17, 2019 (Official Gazette No. 98/December 13, 2019).
– Regulation for Drafting, Filing and Examination of the Applications for Registration of Marks and Geographical Indications (Official Gazette No. 9/2000), last amended on September 9, 2011.

Membership in International Conventions

– Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Stockholm Act.
– Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), since May 19, 1970.
– Madrid Agreement for the Repression of False or Deceptive Indications of Source on Goods, Stockholm Act, since August 12, 1975.
– Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin, Stockholm Act, since August 12, 1975.
– Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, since May 1, 1985.
– WTO’s TRIPS Agreement, since December 1, 1996.
– Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks, since February 27, 2001.
– Vienna Agreement Establishing an International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks, since February 27, 2001.
– The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (Apostille), since April 29, 2001.
– Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement, since October 2, 2001.
– European Union Trade Mark Regulation.
– Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, since March 16, 2009.

Filing

Applicant: any person (individual, firm, company, corporations, associations). 

Foreigners and nationals not living in the country: must appoint a representative. 

Trademarks of foreigners: can be registered and priority may be claimed according to the Convention. 

Nature of trademarks and service marks: marks are signs, which are capable to distinguish the goods or services of one person from those of other persons and can be presented in the State Register of Marks in a manner permitting exactly and clearly to be determined the subject of protection granted with the registration.

Kinds of protection: words, including names of persons, letters, numerals, drawings, figures, form of the article or the packing thereof, colors, sound or any combinations of such signs. 

Novelty: is not subject of examination, only in case of opposition or cancellation actions. The mark should not be identical or confusingly similar to: (a) a previously applied or registered mark; (b) a geographical indication; (c) a mark which is well-known in the territory of Bulgaria on the filing date or the priority date as appropriate; (d) an earlier registered mark for different goods or services where the earlier mark is a mark of reputation in Bulgaria; (e) a company name or a part thereof which has been used in Bulgaria before the filing date with regards to identical or similar goods or services; (f) an unregistered mark which was used in Bulgaria before the filing date with regards to identical or similar goods in case this mark has been really used before the filing date of the later mark and the use continues at the date of filing the opposition. 

Not registrable: (a) signs which are not marks within the meaning of the law; (b) marks which are devoid of any distinctive character, unless as a result of their use have become distinctive in relation to the respective goods or services; (c) marks which consist exclusively of signs or indications which have become customary in the current language or in the established commercial practice in Bulgaria, with respect to the goods applied, unless as a result of their use have become distinctive in relation to the respective goods or services; (d) marks which consist exclusively of signs designating the kind, quality, composition, intended purpose, value, geographical origin, time or process of manufacture of the goods, manner of rendering the services or other characteristics of the goods or services, unless as a result of their use have become distinctive in relation to the respective goods or services; (e) signs which consist exclusively of the shape of the goods resulting from their nature or the shape of the goods necessary to obtain a technical result or the shape of the goods considerably raising their value; (f) are contrary to the public order and morality; (g) marks which may deceive the users as to the nature or geographical origin of the goods or services; (h) marks which consist of or comprise coats of arms, flags or other symbols or their imitations of member States of the Paris Convention as well as coats of arms, flags or other symbols, abbreviations or names of international intergovernmental organizations, notified according to Art. 6 of the Paris Convention; (i) marks which registration is in violation of the Bulgarian legislation, the legislation of the EU or International agreements to which Bulgaria or the EU is a party, which provide legal protection of geographical indications, of foods with traditionally specific character or of traditional appellations of wines; (j) marks which comprise signs, emblems or coats of arms different from these according to Art. 6ter of the Paris Convention, which represent an important public interest; (k) marks which consist of or comprise a name or picture of cultural value or parts of cultural value duly determined by the Law on cultural heritage; (l) marks which consist of or reproduces in its basic elements the name of an earlier plant variety duly registered according to the national legislation or the legislation of the EU or according to an International agreement in which Bulgaria or the EU is a party, where the mark and the plant variety relate to identical or closely similar varieties. 

Collective marks: are marks possessed by an association of producers, traders or persons rendering services, the association being a legal entity. They serve to distinguish the goods or services of the association members from the goods/services of other persons.

Priorities: according to Paris Convention, six months.

Classification: international with 45 classes. 

Territory covered: the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.

Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to resident agent):
1. Power of attorney, in the form approved by the Patent Office (simply signed);
2. Priority document, if priority is claimed;
3. The rules for use of the collective or certification mark (in case of such marks).

For renewal: power of attorney (simply signed).

Note: an application may include goods and services falling in several classes on payment of an additional fee for each additional class after the third class.

Electronic filing: available. 

Electronic signatures: are not accepted (only wet signatures).

Examination

Amendment of application: possible, only in case of limitation of the list of goods. 

Examination: concerning formal requirements, as well as absolute grounds for refusal. 

Disclaimers: available.

Opposition: within three months after the date of publication of the application in the Official Bulletin of the Patent Office. Opposition on absolute grounds may be filed by any party (in this case the opposing party does not become a party in the examination procedure).

Disputes about ownership: are brought before the courts.  

Application kept secret: not provided for. 

Appeal: the decisions of the Examining Department and of the Department for Oppositions may be appealed within two months before the Department for Disputes of the Patent Office. The decisions of the Department for Disputes can then be appealed at the Administrative Court within a term of two months.

Urgent registration: not possible.

Provisional registration: not possible. 

Publication: in the “Bulletin of Patents, Trade Marks and Designs”. 

Correction of registration: possible only for misprints. 

Well-known marks: must be recognized by the court or by the Patent Office in a procedure for opposition or cancellation.

Registration, Protection

Delivery of document: within one to two months after payment of the registration and publication fees. The registration certificate is issued in digital format only since November 2020.

Beginning of protection: from the day of filing of the application. 

Kind of property: upon the registration of a trademark or service mark, the right of its exclusive use is recognized. 

Duration – extension: ten years and can be renewed for further periods of ten years.

Renewal: not earlier than twelve months before the expiration of the ten-year term.

Latest term for renewal: at the end of the ten-year period. Grace period: six months, with fine.

Rights of prior user: not provided for, except the possibility of opposing the registration of an identical or similar mark in case the unregistered prior mark has not only been really used before the filing of the later mark but also if the use continues and the unregistered mark has been applied for registration at the date of filing the opposition.  

Obligation to use: within five years from the registration date.

Marking of registered goods: not obligatory. 

Text of marking: “Registered Mark…”. 

Modification of the mark: no changes are accepted except if the mark includes the name or the address of the owner and these elements have been changed, provided that such changes do not affect essentially the mark as registered. 

Changes in the list of goods: possible, only in case the list of goods is restricted. 

Licenses: the use of a trademark may be licensed. License must ensure that the trademark is used for manufactured goods or services of the same quality. It must be registered in order to be valid against third parties.

Assignment: must be registered; possible by a written deed, certified by a Notary Public. In case the application for recordal of the assignment is filed by both parties, it is not necessary to present the deed of assignment.

Modification of Protection after Registration

Expropriation: not provided for. 

Cancellation: (1) on the basis of non-use during five years bearing in mind that (a) the relevant term of five years is calculated as from the registration date; (b) the start or resumption of the use within three months before the filing date of the petition for revocation will not be taken into consideration in case the trademark owner had learned of the likelihood of such a petition being filed; (2) as a result of the activity or inactivity of the holder, the mark has become a common name of the product or service in respect of which it is registered; (3) as a result of the use made by the holder or by the person authorized by the holder, the consumer is misled as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods/services.

Nullification: any person may request invalidation of the registration on absolute grounds for refusal; any owner of earlier trademark rights who had not filed an opposition or who had filed an opposition which had not been admitted to consideration, may request invalidation of the registration, if the mark has been registered in violation of the provisions of the law. The invalidation shall not be effected if the earlier mark has not been used during five years. Invalidation may be requested on the basis of "registration in bad faith"; registration made by agent or representative without the consent of the real owner; earlier rights duly protected according to other laws. 

Registration of invalidated marks: not provided for. 

Infringement and penalties: actions before the civil court for establishment of the fact of infringement, suspension of the act of infringement, compensation for damages and losses, processing or destruction of infringing goods and the means for their manufacturing, and publication of the court decision in two daily newspapers and during the emission time of a national television station. Administrative penal sanctions: confiscation of the infringing goods and their destruction; pecuniary sanction imposed with penal injunction issued by the President of the Patent Office. Penal responsibility: imprisonment for up to three years or a fine. Border measures are also available.

European Union Trademark (EUTM) Conversion

Filing requirements for the conversion of an EUTM application into a national application in Bulgaria:
1. A Bulgarian translation of the documents;
2. A representation of the mark;
3. A document certifying the payment of the filing, examination and publication fees;
4. A simply signed power of attorney.

Time limit: applications must be filed at the Bulgarian Patent Office within two months following the date of receipt of the conversion notification.

Designation or Indication of Origin

Designations of origin may be registered by any firm, organization or person engaged in a given place in economic activity, if the characteristics or quality of the manufactured or traded goods correspond to the specific characteristics featured by the designation of origin.