PATENT OFFICE OF THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA

Registration under the national procedure

REGISTRATION PROCEDURE

Applicants for trademarks may be both Bulgarian natural and legal persons, as well as foreign ones, as foreign natural and legal persons shall perform actions before the Patent Office through an industrial property representative.The Bulgarian law does not necessarily require the applicant to be a manufacturing or commercial enterprise, that produces or trades in the goods, respectively to perform the services, for which he wishes to register the trademark.To obtain a trademark registration, it is necessary to file an application with the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria - directly, by mail, by fax or electronically.When the application is submitted electronically, identification by a unique identifier of the applicant and the industrial property representative, as well as an electronic signature within the meaning of the Electronic Document and Electronic Signature Act shall not be mandatory.When filed by fax, the originals of the documents must be received at the Patent Office within one month from the date of the fax.The sent original documents must be clearly marked with the date when the fax was sent.A check follows, whether the requirements of the MGIA for establishing the filing date have been met. The filing date is considered to be the date, on which the following documents were received at the Patent Office:

  • application for registration, containing the name and address of the applicant, presentation of the mark, list of goods and / or services, for which registration is requested; for collective and certificate marks - the rules for their use.

Where these requirements have not been met, the application shall be deemed not to have been submitted.

When all the requirements have been met, the application is entered in the entry register of the Patent Office of the applications for trademarks with entry number and filing date, which are marked on it.

For each application with a set filing date, it is checked, whether a document for paid fees for the application and expertise is attached.Where such document is not attached, the applicant shall be given a period of 14 days to remedy the defect. Up to 14 days after the expiration of this period, fees may be paid in double amount. If the fees have not been paid within this period, the application is considered withdrawn. The application must relate to a trade mark, intended for goods and / or services in one or more classes under the International Classification of Goods and Services. The application shall contain:   

  • a request for registration;
  • identification data of the applicant;
  • identification data of the industrial property representative, when such is authorized, incl. power of attorney;
  • correspondence address – if any;
  • claim for priority, if such is claimed, incl. priority document. Where there is a claim to conventional priority, the application shall state the date and number of the first application and the country, in which it was filed. In case of a claim for exhibition priority, the application shall indicate the date of exhibition of the goods or services and the country, in which the exhibition is organized;
  • instruction about the kind and type of the mark;
  • representation of the mark;
  • description of the mark and / or indication of its verbal elements and the way of their spelling - in Cyrillic or Latin letters, and / or indication of the color / colors, when the image of the applied mark is in color;
  • data for a previous request, in the cases of division of the request;
  • list of goods and / or services and their classes, according to the International Classification of Goods and Services;
  • number, date and priority of the application or registration of a European Union trade mark, for which conversion into a national application has been requested;
  • list of the documents, attached to the application;
  • signature;
  • for collective and certificate marks, rules of use are also to be applied;
  • document for paid fees.

The application must be signed by the applicant or his industrial property representative. When the applicant is a legal person, the application shall be signed by the person, representing him by law. Within one month from the presentation of the document for paid fees, a formal expertise is performed. In case of found deficiencies in it, the applicant shall be notified and given one month to rectify them. If within this period the applicant does not eliminate the deficiencies, the proceedings shall be terminated. Where the examination reveals, that the application does not relate to a single mark, within the said one-month period, the applicant may divide the application, the split applications retaining the filing date and the priority date of the original application, respectively. Upon division of the application, a fee for application and expertise shall be paid, and the content of the divided application must not differ from the content of the original application. Within two months from the completion of the formal expertise or from the publication of the international registration in the official bulletin of the Patent Office, an expertise shall be carried out as to existence of absolute grounds for refusal. Where there are grounds for refusal for all or part of the goods or services, the applicant shall be notified, stating the reasons for the refusal and given a two-month period for objection. If, within this period, the applicant fails to reply, object unreasonably or does not limit the list of goods or services, a decision on total or partial refusal shall be taken. In case of a partial refusal, the applicant has the opportunity within one month from the receipt of the decision or in the proceedings on appeals against decisions for refusal, to submit a request for division of the application.

Within one month after the completion of the expertise on the existence of absolute grounds for refusal, any application, that meets the requirements of the law shall be published in the official bulletin of the Patent Office.

International registrations, to which the Republic of Bulgaria is a designated party shall be published within one month of notifying the Office of the international registration.

Within three months from the publication of the trademark, as well as until the end of the opposition proceedings, if such is filed, any person may file an objection against the registration, resp. against recognition of the effect of international registration on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, on the basis of the absolute grounds for refusal.The objection shall be considered by a state expert, as the person, who submitted the objection shall not be a participant in the proceedings on the application. The objection shall be sent to the applicant, resp. the holder of the international registration, who may submit an opinion thereon.

Opposition procedure

Within three months from the publication of the application, the interested Bulgarian natural and legal persons, as well as foreign natural and legal persons, acting before the Patent Office through an industrial property representative, may file an opposition against the registration of a trademark, resp. against recognition of the effect of international registration on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. In case of opposition to the recognition of the effect of an international registration, the three-month period shall begin to run two months after the publication of the international registration in the Official Gazette of the Patent Office. The opposition shall be filed in two identical copies, except when filed electronically with a qualified electronic signature (QES).

The fee for consideration of the opposition shall be paid upon submission of the opposition, but not later, than the expiration of the three-month term for submission of the opposition.

The opposition must contain:   

  • data about the opponent;
  • information on the legal interest on which it is based;
  • data on the trademark, subject of the opposition, including entry number, name, name of the applicant, respectively the holder of the international registration;
  • an indication of the goods and / or services, mentioned in the trade mark application, respectively in the international registration, against which the opposition has been filed;
  • data for the earlier mark and / or earlier right in the meaning of Art. 12 of the MGIA, on which the opposition is based, including the entry or registered number, goods and / or services, for which the trademark is intended, the name of the owner of the earlier trademark;
  • an indication of the goods and / or services, on which the opposition is based;
  • a detailed statement of the grounds, arguments and motives, on which the opposition is based, as well as evidence - where necessary;
  • a document for paid state fee, if the payment is by bank transfer;
  • a power of attorney, when an industrial property representative is authorized on the opposition;
  • a court certificate for initiated proceedings or a court decision, that has entered into force, when the opposition is under Art. 12, Para. 5 of the MGIA.

The opposition shall be examined by an opposition panel, which consists of three experts, one of whom is a state expert and chairs the panel. After the receipt of opposition against an application for registration of a trademark, the applicant of the trademark - subject of the opposition - shall be notified.

An inspection of the admissibility and formal regularity of the opposition follows.

In case the opposition is inadmissible, a decision shall be taken not to initiate proceedings.

For each admissible opposition, an examination shall be made for formal regularity. When deficiencies in the formal regularity are found, the opponent shall be given one month to eliminate them. In case the formal irregularities are not eliminated, a decision shall be issued to terminate the opposition proceedings.

Upon completion of the examination of the opposition admissibility and formal regularity, or after the opponent's formal irregularities have been remedied, the parties shall be notified, that proceedings have been instituted and a copy of the opposition with the evidence shall be sent to the applicant of the mark, subject of the opposition.

At the same time, the parties shall be given a period of three months to reach an agreement, which shall run from the date of dispatch of the notification.

This period may be extended once by three months upon a written request, signed by the parties, accompanied by a document for paid state fee. If the parties file an agreement, a decision is made to terminate the opposition proceedings. Upon request, half of the paid opposition fee shall be returned to the person who filed it.

In the event, that no agreement is reached within the stipulated period, the applicant shall be given a two-month period to respond to the opposition. Upon submission of a response, it is sent to the opponent for an opinion, for which he shall be given a period of one month. Accordingly, in the absence of a response from the applicant, a decision shall be rendered on the basis of the opposition and the evidence, attached to it.

The opposition panel shall issue a decision within three months of the completion of the exchange of correspondence between the parties. When the panel deems, that the opposition is unfounded, a decision is made to disregard it.

When the panel considers, that the opposition is justified, a decision is made to completely or partially refuse the registration of the trademark. The decisions of an opposition panel shall be subject to appeal within two months of their announcement.

After entry into force of the decisions for disregard or partial refusal, the proceedings on the application shall continue with a decision for registration of the trademark for the goods and / or services, for which there was no ground for refusal.

Within seven days from the expiration of the term under Art. 52, Para. 1 of the MGIA, when no opposition has been filed or when the opposition has been rejected in whole or in part as unfounded by an effective decision, a decision for registration of the mark shall be sent to the applicant.The trademark shall be entered in the State Register of Trademarks and published in the official bulletin of the Patent Office. The applicant will be issued a certificate of registration of the mark within 14 days after payment of a fee of BGN 50, according to Art. 4, Para. 1, item 6 of the Tariff of Fees.If the applicant pays by bank transfer, he should present in the PO a document for the ordered bank transfer. The certificate may be received after the expiration of the above term in the Registry of the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria or by mail, upon submission of a written request.

RIGHTS, ARISING FROM THE ISSUED PROTECTED DOCUMENT

The right to a trade mark, arising from its registration shall include the right of its holder to use it, to dispose of it and to prohibit third parties from using a mark, which is identical or similar to it in commercial activities without his consent. The prohibition on use shall include affixing of the mark on goods or their packaging, offering or placing on the market of goods, bearing that mark for sale, or their placing on the market, and offering or provision of services, bearing that mark, importation or exportation of goods with this mark and use of the mark in commercial papers and in advertisements.

When the trademark is owned by several persons and no other agreement has been agreed between them, each of them may use it in full. The right to dispose of the trademark (to transfer it, to conclude license agreements, to pledge and provide it as collateral) shall be exercised jointly by all co-owners, where their written consent must be present.

APPEAL

An applicant for a trademark, who has received:

  • a decision for refusal of registration on absolute grounds
  • a decision for termination of the formal expertise proceedings
  • a decision of the opposition panel

may appeal against this decision before the Patent Office. To meet the legal eligibility requirements, the appeal must:

  • have been lodged no later, than two months from the date, on which the applicant received the decision
  • have been accompanied by a document for paid fee.

When it is established, that these conditions have not been met, the applicant shall be given a period of one month to eliminate them, otherwise the appeal will be inadmissible and no proceedings are instituted. In order to meet the legal requirements for formal regularity, any admissible complaint must:

  • contain information on the trade mark application and on the appellant, as well as reasons against the contested decision
  • when the complaint is filed through an industrial property representative, a power of attorney of the representative must be attached to it, if so far it has not been presented in the file.

When it is established, that these two conditions have not been met, the applicant shall be given one month to eliminate them, otherwise the appeal is formally irregular and the proceedings shall be terminated by a decision of the President of the Patent Office. The proceedings shall also be terminated, when the applicant himself withdraws the complaint. Each admissible and formally regular appeal shall be considered by a panel of the Disputes Department, which is appointed by an order of the President of the Patent Office and shall consist of two state experts and one lawyer.

The panel shall consider the reasons of the expertise for refusal of registration, for termination of the proceedings or for rejection of the opposition, as well as the reasons of the appellant and shall prepare an opinion on the appeal, on the basis of which the President of the Patent Office shall decide.Where the appeal is well founded, the President of the Patent Office or a Deputy-President, authorized by him shall cancel the decision for refusal, for discontinuation of the proceedings, or for rejection of the opposition and shall issue a decision by which he shall:

  • return the application for registration of the trademark - when he has revoked a decision for refusal of registration;
  • resume the proceedings - when he has revoked a decision for its termination;
  • return the request for reconsideration - when it has established procedural violations in the proceedings for expertise or opposition.

These decisions shall not be subject to appeal in court.

Where the appeal is unfounded, the President of the Patent Office or a Deputy-President, authorized by him shall issue a decision, confirming the decision to refuse registration, to terminate the proceedings or to reject the opposition.

These decisions may be appealed in court within three months of receiving the decision.The Administrative Court of Sofia is competent to hear appeals against decisions of the President of the Patent Office. The decisions of the Administrative Court - Sofia may be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court, whose decision shall be final.

REQUESTS FOR CANCELLATION AND DELETION OF REGISTRATION

Any person, who considers that a registered trade mark:

  • within five years from the date of its registration, it has not actually started to be used on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria by its owner or with his consent for the goods or services, for which it is registered, or its use has been suspended for a continuous five-year period;
  • has become a common designation for the goods or service, for which it is registered or
  • is used in a way, that misleads consumers as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or services, for which the mark is registered

who considers, that a trade mark is registered:

  • in violation of the requirements for application of the MGIA in relation to natural and legal persons
  • in contradiction with the absolute grounds for refusal of registration, provided in the same Act

may apply for cancellation of the registration of that mark. Any person with a legal interest who considers, that a trade mark is registered:

  • in contradiction with the relative grounds for refusal of registration, provided by the MGIA
  • has been registered in bad faith, which has been established by an effective court decisionе
  • has been registered by an agent or representative of its holder, without his consent
  • is registered in violation of an earlier intellectual property right
  • the registered trademark consists of, or contains the company of another person

may apply for cancellation of the registration of that mark.Requests may be filed within the entire period of validity of the registration with the Disputes Department of the Patent Office. To meet the legal eligibility requirements, the application must:

  • be accompanied by a document for paid fee;
  • contain evidence of the applicant's legal interest, if required;
  • to have been filed at least 5 years after the registration of the trademark, if its cancellation is requested due to non-use.

When it is established, that these conditions have not been met, the applicant shall be given a period of one month to eliminate them, otherwise the request is inadmissible and no proceedings will be instituted. In order to meet the legal requirements for formal regularity, any admissible request must:

  • • contain information about the applicant, be motivated and be accompanied by evidence, when necessary;
  • • be submitted in 2 copies, as well as the evidence, attached to it;
  • • when the request is submitted through an industrial property representative, a power of attorney of the representative must be attached to it.

When it is established, that these conditions have not been met, the applicant is given a period of one month to eliminate them, otherwise the request will be inadmissible and no proceedings will be instituted. In order to meet the legal requirements for formal regularity, any admissible request must:

  • contain information about the applicant, be motivated and be accompanied by evidence, when necessary
  • be submitted in 2 copies, as well as the evidence, attached to it
  • when the request is submitted through an industrial property representative, a power of attorney of the representative must be attached to it.

When it is established, that these conditions have not been met, the applicant is given a period of one month to eliminate them, otherwise the request will be formally irregular and the proceedings will be terminated by a decision of the President of the Patent Office. The proceedings shall also be terminated, when the applicant himself withdraws his application or the term of protection of the contested mark has in the meantime expired. Each admissible and formal regular request shall be considered by a panel of the Disputes Department, which is appointed by order of the President of the Patent Office and consists of three state experts and two lawyers.

The composition enables the holder of the mark at issue to object to the request as well as the applicant to express an opinion on the opposition. The panel shall be empowered to request additional evidence from the parties in order to clarify the facts and circumstances of the dispute.

After examining the reasons of both parties and studies the evidence presented, the panel shall issue an opinion on the request, on the basis of which a decision shall be taken. When the request is justified, the President of the Patent Office or a Deputy President, authorized by him shall decide on full or partial revocation, resp. - deletion of registration.Where the request is unfounded, the President of the Patent Office or a Deputy-President, authorized by him shall issue a decision, rejecting the request. These decisions may be appealed in court within three months of their receipt by the person, whose rights and legitimate interests are affected.The Administrative Court of Sofia is competent to hear appeals against decisions of the President of the Patent Office. The decisions of the Administrative Court - Sofia may be appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court, whose decision shall be final.

LEGAL CONSEQUENCES OF CANCELLATION AND DELETION OF REGISTRATION

The cancellation of the registration of a trademark in case of non-use shall have effect from the beginning of the five-year period of non-use.In other cases, the cancellation of the registration shall be valid from the date of submission of the request for cancellation. The cancellation of a trademark registration shall be valid from the date of filing the application..

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