Legal protection for utility model shall be granted through utility model registration with the Bulgarian Patent Office. The utility model protects the aspects of a technological development that are new, involve an inventive step and susceptible of industrial application.
Utility model protection extends to inventions from any technical field,i.e. machines, devices and systems, technical arrangements with the exception of methods (processes), chemical compounds or the use thereof and biotechnological inventions.
Despite the fact that the patentability criteria of utility models are the same as for patent for invention, there are significant differences in the procedure for the registration of a utility model, as well as its validity term.
The registration of a utility model is relatively quick and definitely cost-effective, since it is registered without a substantive examination, for novelty and inventiveness. It is generally registered within several months in the utility model register of the Bulgarian Patent Office (BPO) and the acquired exclusive rights entitle its proprietor to use the subject-matter of the utility model registration and prohibit third parties from manufacturing, using, offering, implementing or importing the subject-matter of the utility model.
The term of validity of a utility model registration is 4 years as of the filing date of the utility model application. It may be extended by two consecutive three-year periods, but the total term of validity may not exceed 10 years as of the filing date of the application for utility model.
Taking into account the aforementioned positive aspects on the one hand and its restrictions on the other hand, the majority of patent attorneys and inventors usually refer to the registered utility model as the “small patent”. The fast utility model registration and cost-effective protection have proved to be its most valuable advantages in practice, which have been being used by the Bulgarian inventors, applicants and companies.