Protection of Industrial Design in the Republic of Bulgaria
According to the current legislation, the exclusive right over an Industrial Design is acquired through its registration at the Patent Office under the Industrial Design Act.
The Industrial Design can be registered if it meets the basic requirements for novelty and originality. The presented images (external appearance) determine the scope of the legal protection of the registered Industrial Design.
According to the current law (Industrial Design Act), the Industrial Design is the visible appearance of a product or part of it, determined by the peculiarities of the shape, lines, pattern, ornaments, color combination or combinations thereof. “Product“ means any product obtained by industrial or artisanal means, including parts intended to be assembled into a composite product, set or composition of products, packaging, graphic symbols and printed fonts, with the exception of computer programs.
The criteria for registerability of the Industrial Design are: novelty and originality. The novelty of a national Industrial Design is considered in general aspect.
The given design is considered new if before the priority date (the one on which the application for registration was filed at the Patent Office), no other identical (publicly available) Industrial Design has become known, through one of the publicly available methods - use, publication, registration or another kind of disclosure, somewhere in the world. It is important to be known that the designs are defined as identical if their features differ only slightly.
The Originality of an Industrial Design is also an obligatory criterion for its registerability. It is considered existent if the overall impression created by the design on the informed user differs from the overall impression created by a design that has become public before the date of submission of the national application for registration of an Industrial Design or before the date of the claimed priority.
Rights conferred to the holder by a registered national Industrial Design
The right to register an Industrial Design belongs to the person (natural or legal) who has first filed an application with the Patent Office.
The rights acquired by the applicant through the registration of an Industrial Design are exclusive and include: to use it, to dispose of it and to prohibit third parties without his consent to use an Industrial Design included in the scope of the protection granted by the registration. Typically, the commercial use (which may be banned) includes: production, storage, offering for sale, advertising, import or export of a product in which it is included or to which is applied an Industrial Design included in the scope of protection.
The scope of the protection of a nationally registered Industrial Design is determined by its image (form-making) and covers any other design that creates an identical impression on the consumers.
Persons entitled to submit national applications for registration of Industrial Design
A national application for an Industrial Design may be submitted by the authors of the designs, as well as by their successors. They can be Bulgarian or foreign legal entities or individuals originating from member states of the Paris Convention (PC) or the World Trade Organization (WTO). The applicants not having a registered office or permanent address in the Republic of Bulgaria are obliged to authorize a local Industrial Property Representative or a licensed patent attorney to perform on their behalf all actions before the National Patent Office.
Unlike, the local Bulgarian applicants are not required to be represented in such proceedings before the Patent Office. But it is also advisable for them to use the services of a qualified Industrial Property Representative or a licensed patent attorney who will provide effective and professional assistance in preparing and submitting the necessary documents, as well as conducting the procedure for a national application for registration of Industrial Design until its successful completion.
Term of registration and territorial effect of a national Industrial Design
The term of the nationally registered Industrial Design is 10 years from the priority date of filing the application at the Patent Office. At present, the legislation in the Republic of Bulgaria allows the registration to be renewed for 3 periods of 5 years. In this situation, the maximum term for the protection of the Industrial Design in our country is 25 years, provided that the fees for the respective periods are paid in a timely manner within the prescribed time limits.
As it is known, each registration of an object of Industrial Property has a strictly defined temporal and territorial character. Therefore, it is reasonable to note that the national registration of an Industrial Design is valid only for the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Besides, it is possible the Industrial Design to be alternatively protected through the available additional means of protection - through registration as European Design (RCD), for the territory of the EU or by means of an international registration under the Hague Agreement for third countries.
Filing an application for national registration of Industrial Design
The applications for national registration of an Industrial Design may be filed at the national Patent Office in some of the regulated ways: directly, by mail, by fax or electronically. The submission of multiple applications for Industrial Designs is also possible, but only if the specified requirements are met. Following the latest changes in the Industrial Design Act, the procedures for national registration of an Industrial Design are now easier, faster and more accessible. However, this does not preclude concomitant problems and/or complications.
The two possible ways of protections of the Industrial Design provided by the national registration or registration of the European Industrial Design (RCD) are of identical force on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. The same is valid for the international Industrial Designs registered in our country under the Hague Agreement. The direct filing of an application for national registration of Industrial Design at the Bulgarian Patent Office has some main advantages, such as: lower costs, easier and more accessible procedure, compared to the proceedings before the office of EU EUIPO and the International Bureau of WIPO.