- Filing a national application for a Bulgarian patent for an invention
The national application for patent for an invention includes: the request for a local patent; a complete and understandable description of the invention disclosing its essence and technical advantages, presented so as to be realizable by one skilled in the art; patent claims (one or several in number), which determine the scope of the sought legal protection; drawings, schemes and/or tables, provided that they are necessary for a more detailed description of the invention, and last but not least an abstract. When filing the application for a Bulgarian patent for an invention, state fees are also due (according to the tariff of the Patent Office), and there are additional fees for patent claims over 10. Additional fees are also charged for claiming priority.
- Check for a classified information (secrecy)
In the case when the applicants are Bulgarian citizens, such with a permanent address in the Republic of Bulgaria and/or legal entities with registered office in the Republic of Bulgaria, it is obligatory to check whether the application for a Bulgarian patent for invention contains classified information.
- Check of the formal requirements for legal admissibility of the application for a Bulgarian patent for an invention
At this stage, the patentability (registerability) of the Bulgarian patent application for an invention is formally checked, which mainly includes: the form; the content of the application; the description; patent claims; the conditions for a translation (if applicable); the data of the inventors; authorization of a Bulgarian patent attorney or Industrial Property Representative (if any); verification whether the subject matter of the patent claims is not registrable (excluded from patent protection); as well as the due state fees have been remitted in full to the account of the Patent Office.
- Request for search and expertise
The Trademark and Geographic Indications Act establishes a 13-month period from the priority date of submission of the application, up to which the applicants may submit to the Office a request for research and expertise. The due fees for research and expertise and publication of the application for a Bulgarian patent for an invention shall be paid.
- Publication of the application for a Bulgarian patent
After about 18 months from the date of filing, the application for a Bulgarian patent for an invention is published in the Official Bulletin of the Patent Office, which since 2009 is only in electronic format. This publication contains: the description of the invention, the claims, all drawings and the abstract. Thus, it becomes public and third parties have access to it. Upon prior declaration by the applicants and payment of an additional fee an earlier, ie. accelerated publication is possible . From this date of the publication of the application for a Bulgarian patent, temporary protection of the invention is granted on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. The legal scope of the temporary protection is determined mainly by the already published patent claims in the Official Bulletin of the Patent Office.
- Filing oppositions by third persons
In 3 months term from the publication (or about 21 months from the filing) of the application for a Bulgarian patent for an invention, any person may lodge a written objection challenging the registerability (patentability) of the claimed invention, supporting his arguments with reliable evidence.
- Research for patent purity and substantive expertise
The Expert Division of the National Patent Office conducts a detailed research of the state of the art. After that prepares a report for this research and issues a written opinion on the registerability (patentability) of the filed invention. This responsible and complex procedure usually takes between 2 and 5 years from the submission of the application. Thereafter, the patent research, the opinion and any written objections (if any) are sent to the applicant. The material expertise (the so-called substantive) also includes communication (written or verbal) with the experts from the Patent Office, overcoming their objections or formal requirements regarding the patentability of the invention. These requirements concern mainly the existence of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability and for their fulfillment, arguments are presented or necessary changes are made in the description or the patent claims of the invention.
- Issuance of a national patent for an invention
After the completion of the material expertise (or the substantive one), as the expert department has given its approval regarding the fulfillment of the obligatory criteria for registerability (patentability) of the submitted invention, the national application is considered admissible. Thus readiness to grant a Bulgarian patent for an invention is declared . A decision to issue a national patent is taken, provided that after the examination, the due state fees are paid, which are connected with the number of the patent claims, the number of pages of the description over the 10th , the issuance of a certificate, the publication in the Official Gazette of the Patent Office, as well as all annual fees for maintaining the patent, which are due at the time of the approval.
- Annual fees for the maintenance of a issued patent for an invention
After the issuance of the Bulgarian patent for invention, in order for it to be effective on the territory of the country, it is necessary the annual patent fees for its maintenance to be paid regularly to the Patent Office. These fees are due for each patent year as from the priority date, for each year till the expiration of the maximum period of 20 years stipulated in the law. The same applies to the issued certificates for supplementary protection.
Termination of the term for patent protection of an invention
The maximum standard term of protection of a national patent for an invention in the Republic of Bulgaria is 20 years, which is as from the the priority date of filing at the Patent Office. The term of protection may be extended to a maximum of 25 years, provided that subsequently for the issuance of a SPC certificate is applied. Furthermore, it is necessary the annual maintenance fees to be paid timely for each current year. Otherwise, the patent will terminate untimely due to non-payment of the due fees. After the expiry of the maximum term of protection, the subject matter of the already extinguished patent shall become publicly available and may be freely used for industrial and /or commercial purposes by any person without restrictions.
NOTE: All these deadlines are approximate and run from the priority date of filing the application for a patent for invention with the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria.