Bulgarian Trademark

BULGARIAN TRADEMARK

Registration of Bulgarian Trademark procedure and costs - KTpatent.com

Pursuant to the Bulgarian Law on Trademarks and Geographical Indications,

the right to a trademark is acquired by registration as of the filing date of the application for a Bulgarian trademark registration filed at the Bulgarian Patent Office.

“What a Bulgarian trademark is?” as stipulated by the Bulgarian trademark law at present, is that marks are signs that are capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of other persons and can be represented graphically. The law further illustrates a non exhaustive list of what actually that means, in particular that 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 colours, sound signals or any combination of such elements. 

 

A mark may be a trademark, a service mark, a collective mark or a certification mark.

 

On the other hand, signs which do not perform the function of the trademark and do not fulfill the above definition are exempt from registration. Additionally, non-registrable are signs which are devoid of any distinctive character; descriptive; contrary to public policy or to accepted principles of morality;  deceive the consumers as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or services; consist of or include the name or a representation of historical and cultural monuments, flags or other emblems of a country. These criteria are know as “absolute grounds for refusal”.

 

In addition to this, a Bulgarian trademark shall not be registered if it is identical or confusingly similar to registered trademark or filed trademark application with effect for the territory of Bulgaria, i.e. European Union (EU) Trademark or International (IR) trademark designating Bulgaria, with earlier filing or priority date than the trademark in question and the earlier trademark is registered or applied for identical or confusingly similar goods and/or services. It might well happen that the earlier trademark is intented for goods and services unrelated to the processed Bulgarian trademark, but the earlier trademark is well known in the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. These criteria are also know as “relative grounds for refusal” and are not evaluated by the Bulgarian Patent Office. Its earlier TM applicants’responsibility to contest such applications for identical or confusingly similar BG trademark applications.

 

As a rule of thumb, BG trademark registration is always performed with respect to one or more classes of specific goods and/or services  governed by the Nice Classification which should correspond to those goods and/or services commercialised by its owner. Practically, a well defined list of goods and/or services in combination with the representation of the sign, define the legal scope of protection of the Bulgarian Trademark.

 

WHAT RIGHTS ARE ATTESTED TO THE OWNER OF A REGISTERED BULGARIAN TRADEMARK?

 

The right to a Bulgarian Trademark Registration has the person or entity that firstly filed the application for Bulgarian Trademark Registration with BPO.

 

The right acquired to the owner of the registered BG trademark is an exclusive right and its owner is entitled to use it, dispose it (assignment or licensing of trademark) and prevent any unauthorized use by others in the course of trade for the same or confusingly similar signs. Practically, the use in the course of trade that could be prevented may encompass: affixing the sign to the goods or to the packaging thereof; offering the goods, placing them on the market or stocking them for these purposes under that sign, or offering or supplying services thereunder;  importing or exporting the goods under that sign;using the sign on business papers and in advertising.

WHO CAN FILE APPLICATION FOR A BULGARIAN (BG) TRADEMARK REGISTRATION?

 

Application for a Bulgarian Trademark Registration can be filed by Bulgarian natural persons and legal entities and any foreign person or entity from countries which are party to international treaties to which the Republic of Bulgaria is also party, i.e. countries party to the Paris Convention(PC) or the World Trade Organization (WTO), etc. However, applicants with no permanent address or principle place of business in the Republic of Bulgaria are required to act in the proceedings before the Bulgarian Patent Office through a registered and qualified Bulgarian Trademark Attorney. Although, Bulgarian applicants are not obliged to be represented, they are strongly advised to appoint an experienced and qualified Bulgarian Trademark Attorney who can conduct the filing and prosecution of the application Bulgarian Trademark Registration in the most professional, legally binding and efficient way.

 

 

TERM AND TERRITORY OF PROTECTION?

 

The validity of Bulgarian trademark registration is 10 years from the filing date of the BG trademark application. The registration may be renewed indefinitely for consecutive periods of 10 years provided trademark renewals are conducted by paying the trademark renewal fees periodically.

 

The registered BG trademark is valid for the territory of Bulgaria only. However, it could be additionally protected via alternative routes for registration in Europe or worldwide through application for European Union (EU) Trademark Registration filed with EUIPO and/or application for International Trademark Registration with WIPO respectively.

 

How do you apply for a BG trademark registration?

 

Applications for Bulgarian trademark registration shall be filed with the Bulgarian Patent Office (BPO) directly, by post, by facsimile or electronic means.

 

The examination procedure before BPO does not involve examination as to the presence of earlier conflicting rights (no examination of “relative grounds of refusal”)  and transferred this opportunity and responsibility to all applicants and/or owners of earlier trademark rights. The opportunity for objection against a trademark is called Opposition period and is 3 months from the publication of the BG trademark application. Hence, in order to prevent conflicting trademarks of competitors being registered, owners or applicants of BG Trademarks must constantly conduct a trademark monitoring over the official trademark registers and bulletins that have impact on the geographical boundaries of Bulgaria and contesting such TMs by filing oppositions against them in the duly prescribed deadline.

 

The protection conferred by the registered national Bulgarian Trademark is the same as if the protection was obtained by a registered European Union (EU) Trademark. The same applies if the Bulgarian trademark was registered via already registered International Trademark. The advantages of filing a direct application for Bulgarian trademark with the Bulgarian Patent Office are that the procedure, prosecution and costs are less complex and expensive compared to the European or International route with EUIPO and WIPO respectively and the applicants can deal with BPO in Bulgarian language.

SUMMARY OF THE PROCEDURE AND COSTS FOR REGISTRATION A BULGARIAN TRADEMARK:

* REMARKS: 1) This is an approximate time scale calculated as from the filing date; 2) Attorney fees are not included and all official fees are tentative

Filing of Bulgarian Trademark Application

0 WEEKS

A Bulgarian trademark application consists of: a request for registration a Bulgarian trademark; the name and address of the TM applicant; a representation of the sign which will be registered;a list of the goods and/or services in respect of which the registration is requested. The Official fees due at the filing stage amount to about 100 EUR and cover up to 3 classes of goods and/or services. A surcharge of 16 EUR is also levied for each class in excess of 3.

Examination of Filing, Formal and Substantive Requirements

2-3 MONTHS

The requirements for according a filing date are assessed during this stage. Additionally, certain formal and substantive aspects of the Bulgarian trademark application are examined, including the form and content of the trademark application, payment of the TM filing fee; the appointment of a Bulgarian Trademark Attorney, list of goods and services and absolute grounds of refusal, in particular if the sign in question can perform the function of a trademark. During this stage the examiners can object against some goods/service or the sing per se, and ask for correction and/or limitation of the list of goods/services. These deficiencies might significantly prolong the procedure.

Publication of the Bulgarian Trademark Application and start of 3 months Opposition period

2-3 MONTHS

The publication of the Bulgarian trademark application contains the representation of the mark and applied lists of goods and/or services. Within a period of three months following the publication date of the application, any person may file objections against the registration of the mark based on the absolute grounds. Within the same three months, applicants and owners of prior trademark rights may also oppose the registration in question, but on relative grounds. This is the so called Opposition period which is prescribed to 3 months by law and cannot be expedited upon request. It must be highlighted that the responsibility for opposing TM applications, which are identical or confusingly similar to prior trademark applications or registrations, is entirely withing the capacity of the third parties and owners of prior rights. The Bulgarian Patent Office will in no way examine trademark applications on these grounds.

End of the Opposition Period

5-7 MONTHS FROM FILING DATE

The Opposition period terminates 3 months after the publication of the BG trademark application and if no oppositions have been lodged against the BG TM application in question, the Bulgarian Trademark Application is considered allowable and ready for registration. It must be highlighted that the herewith indicated period for opposition as above is in the case of a smooth and straightforward TM registration procedure, in particular in the case where the no opposition or objections by third parties have been filed against the processed trademark. In case of objections or filed oppositions, the period for registration depends on each case independently, and can even last about 1-2 years.

Decision for Registration of BG trademark

6.5-7 MONTHS

Upon termination of the 3 month Opposition period and if no opposition has been lodged against the TM application in question, the Bulgarian Trademark Application is considered allowable and ready for registration. The decision for registering a Bulgarian Trademark is taken provided the due fees for registration, publication and issuance of TM registration certificate are paid, which amount to about 210 EUR.

Registration and issuance of Trademark Registration Certificate

8-9 MONTHS

Subsequently after the decision for registration has been taken, the Bulgarian Trademark is then registered, published as registered and entered in the trademark registers of the Bulgarian Patent Office. The BG trademark owner is then issued a TM registration certificate. The TM owner acquires protection for its trademark for a period of 10 years calculated as of the date of filing.

Obligation to use the registered Bulgarian Trademark

< 10 YEARS

Bulgarian trademark protection is not an end in itself. Unused BG trademarks are an artificial barrier to the registration of new trademarks. Hence, there is an absolute need to provide for a use obligation. On the other hand, trademark owners need a grace period after registration before the use obligation comes into effect. Hence, the Bulgarian Trademark Law has provided that if, within a period of five years following registration, the proprietor has not put the mark to genuine use on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria in connection with the goods or services in respect of which it is registered, or if such use has been suspended for an uninterrupted period of five years, the registration may be revoked, unless there are legitimate reasons for non-use. In principle, upon expiration of the 5 year period as prescribed by law, the TM protection is practically reduced to the goods/services on which the mark is actually used and goods/services similar to them. Any goods and/or services for which the trademark was registered but have not been in use, should no longer be a valid basis for asserting exclusive trademark rights and can be objected by third parties.

Bulgarian Trademark Monitoring and Enforcement

< 10 YEARS

The Bulgarian Trademark Registration is not an end in itself. BG trademark owner must be his own policemen and safeguards his exclusive rights because they are not automatically applied to infringers. The market use and/or attempts for registrations of confusingly similar trademarks by your competitors must constantly be monitored and subsequently enforced in order to avoid financial loss and/or harming your reputation. The trademark monitoring and enforcement protect the time and money you have invested in building your trademark image on the market.

Trademark Renewals

EVERY 10 YEARS

The validity of Bulgarian trademark registration is 10 years from the filing date of the BG trademark application. The registration may be renewed indefinitely for consecutive periods of 10 years provided trademark renewal fees are periodically paid before the expiry of the BG Trademark term of protection. The costs for Bulgarian Trademark Renewal amount to about 160 EUR up to 3 classes and additional fees of about 30 EUR are levied for each subsequent class above the 3rd. Missing the deadline for TM renewal can be remedied within 6 months following the term of expiry and by paying a surcharge. Missing this period will have the effect that the Bulgarian Trademark has expired, thus the legal protection terminated and anyone may use it in Bulgaria without infringing any rights outstanding.

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