PROCEDURE FOR NATIONAL REGISTRATION OF INDUSTRIAL DESIGN
Filing an application for a national registration of an Industrial Design in the Republic of Bulgaria
The application for a national (local) registration of an Industrial Design includes the following obligatory documents: the request for Bulgarian registration of the design(s); the data of the applicant - name, address, representative, as well as images of the design(s). They can be graphic and/or photographic images, with a maximum of 7 for one design (views from different angles).
The type of the product according to the official Locarno classification to which the requested Industrial Design(s) refers must be indicated. The state fees are also paid, the amount of which is defined by the Office. When submitting a multiple application (including several Industrial Designs of the same class), the due fees are reduced. The law allows the publication of the registration of the Industrial Designs to be postponed, which can be up to 30 months as of the priority date of filing the application at the Patent Office. This may be done in order to keep the design(s) secret from the competitors. In case of a request for such postponement of the publication, it is necessary additional state fees to be paid.
Check of the legal admissibility and formal examination of a national application for an Industrial Design
At this stage, the requirements for indicating the priority date of the filing of the application for a national registration of the Industrial Design are determined. Besides that, the essential formal requirements regarding the application for an Industrial Design at the Patent Office are considered, which obligatory include: eventual documentary imperfections; the quality of the given images of the design; the payment of the due fees; the authorization of an Industrial Property Representative (patent attorney); check whether the filed design meets the requirements of Article 12 and Article 13 of the Industrial Design Act for novelty and originality. At this stage of the formal check, the Office may if necessary request the applicant to eliminate some of the found irregularities which do not meet the requirements of the law and the expertise ordinance. These additional formal operations may extend the registration procedure by several weeks. It is important to note that the Patent Office does not conduct material expertise, ie. no official investigation is carried out for the existence of earlier identical to the filed industrial designs. This means that the assessment of the novelty of the filed Industrial Design is entirely up to those interested persons (natural and legal) who already use identical or very similar to the filed design. Any person with a legal interest is given the opportunity to lodge a request for cancellation of the registration of an Industrial Design, for which is proven that there are no grounds for novelty or originality.
National registration of an Industrial Design and issuance of a protection document
Provided that no irregularities are established or eliminated within the specified period, the national application for Industrial Design will be approved. The decision for registration is made after the last state fees for entering in the State Register, publication and issuance of a certificate for registration have been paid.
After the decision for national registration has been made, the Industrial Design is published and entered in the State Register of Industrial Designs of the Patent Office. Certificates for registration of Bulgarian Industrial Design are issued to the applicants. The holders of registered Industrial Designs acquire protection for a period of 10 years, which starts from the priority date of the submission of the application.
Request for postponed publication of an Industrial Design
According to the Industrial Design Act, the applicants for industrial designs have the opportunity to request that the publication of the designs be postponed for a period of up to 30 months. This declaration of intent is made together with the filing of the applications and the postponement period also starts from this date (or from the priority date). This can be done to keep the designs secret from the competitors. The respective state fee is due for such regulated postponement.
Monitoring of already registered national Industrial Designs and their protection
With the completion of the procedure for national registration of an Industrial Design the obligations for their holders are not exhausted. After acquiring the relevant exclusive rights, they need to act for their protectation. This is so because the monitoring for infringement of these acquired rights is not done automatically against potential infringers. The use in the trade turnover of identical and/or very similar to the already registered Industrial Designs by different persons, as well as the attempts for their registration by competitors in the respective branch, is necessary to be constantly preventive monitored in order to avoid future matirial losses or damage to the goodwill and reputation of the trader or manufacturer. Therefore, the holders of already registered Industrial Designs are responsible for the use on the market and the monitoring of these designs in order to detect possible counterfeits and imitations, as well as to take timely responses to discontinue them. This protection is provided mainly by monitoring the registered Industrial Designs, as well as taking timely adequate measures for protection against the identified infringers. Thus financial resources and valuable time will be saved which have been invested in creating the commercial image and reputation of the product on the market.
Renewal of the national registration of Industrial Designs
Unlike the designs registered in the European Union (RCD), the Bulgarian registration of the Industrial Designs is for an initial period of 10 years, that period starts from the priority date of filing the application at the Patent Office. There is a normatively regulated possibility the registration of an Industrial Design to be renewed for another 3 consecutive periods of 5 years. Thus, the maximum possible term of validity of the registration is 25 years. This is always possible provided that the due fees are paid on time within the specified period. The omission of the deadline for a new renewal of the Industrial Design due to various reasons, is possible to be overcome within 6 months after the expiration of the specified period, paying an additional fee. However, the expiration of this grace period also leads to the final termination of the national registration of the Bulgarian Industrial Design. After this, the legal protection will be exhausted . This opens the possibility for every third party to be able to use the Industrial Design on the territory of the country, thus not infringing anyone's rights.
Expiration of the term of protection of the registered national Industrial Design
After the expiration of the term of protection of the national Industrial Designs, the objects of the designs (packaging, labels, etc.) now become free and accessible for commercial use by all persons (natural and legal) on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.