2. General Review
2.1. Copyright and Neighbouring Rights
The law provides for protection of copyright during the whole life of the author and for 70 years after his death, irrespective of the date when the work is lawfully made available to the public.
The author is entitled to the exclusive right to use the work created by him and to permit its use by other persons. The reproduction of the work, regardless whether it is related to the distribution, presentation, broadcasting, transmission, public exhibition, translation in other language, revision and synchronization or import from and export to non EU member states of the work in commercial quantities and if it is addressed to unlimited number of people or to a limited number of people (in certain cases), is considered as a use of this work.
In cases where the work is created by the author under an employment, service or assignment agreement the employer/assigner has the right to use the work without any permission to be given by the author.
The performer has the exclusive right to permit against compensation: (a) the broadcasting of his/her performance by wireless means, its transmission and retransmission by cable, as well as a sound and video recording of the performance, the reproduction of the recording on video or video carriers and their distribution; (b) the public performance, broadcasting by wireless means, transmission and retransmission by cable of such recordings; (c) offering by wireless means or cable of access to the recording of unlimited number of people and (d) import from and export to non EU Member States of the recording in commercial quantities.
The phonogram producer has the exclusive right to permit against compensation: (a) import from and export to non EU Member States of the recording in commercial quantities; (b) reproduction and distribution of the recording; (c) the public performance, broadcasting by wireless means, transmission and retransmission by cable of such recording; (d) offering by wireless means or cable of access to the recording of unlimited number of people and (e) revision and synchronization of the recording.
The producer of initial recording of a film or another audio-visual work has the exclusive right to permit against compensation: (a) their duplication; (b) their screening before the public; (c) their public performance and broadcasting by wireless; (d) their transmission or retransmission by cable; (e) their reproduction; (f) their distribution; (g) their translation, dubbing into another language or sub-titling; (h) offering by wireless or by cable of access for an unlimited number of persons to the film or part thereof in a manner permitting the access to occur from any place and at any time individually chosen by each one of these persons; (i)import from and exports to non EU member states of the film in commercial quantities and (j) processing and synchronization of the recording.
The broadcasting organizations which has carried out the initial broadcast or transmission of its own program shall have the exclusive right to permit against compensation: (a) rebroadcasting of the program by wireless or re-transmitting it via electronic transmission networks; (b) recording, reproduction and distribution of the recordings of the program; (c) offering by wireless or via another electronic transmission network of access for an unlimited number of persons to the program or part thereof in a manner permitting the access to occur from any place and at any time individually chosen by each one of these persons; and (d)public performance of the program.
The computer programs are copyright objects and the law provides for their protection for 70 years. The copyright over such a program belongs to the person, whose work has resulted in the creation of computer program. In case the computer program was created under an employment contract and unless otherwise agreed, the copyright over it shall belong to the employer.
The exclusive right on invention is obtained by issuance of a patent by the Bulgarian Patent Office. The procedure includes (i) a formal examination and (ii) an examination whether the criteria for patentability are fulfilled.
Any patent application may enjoy a priority from earlier application filed in a Member-State of the Paris Convention within 12-months.
The scope of protection is determined by the patent claims. The exclusive right on an invention includes the right of usage of the invention, the right to prevent third parties from usage and the right to dispose of the patent.
The term of validity of a patent for invention is 20 years from the date of filing of the application. In order to maintain the validity of a patent annuity fees are due.
The exclusive right on utility model is obtained by its registration with the Patent Office. The procedure includes (i) a formal examination and (ii) an examination whether the criteria for registration are fulfilled. The term of validity of utility model registration is 4 years from the date of the filing of the application. That term may be extended for two consecutive periods of three years each. The total term of protection may not exceed 10 years from the date of the filing of the application.
The exclusive right on a mark is obtained by its registration in the Bulgarian Patent Office. The law provides protection for trademarks, service marks, certificate marks and collective marks. The procedure of registration consists of two stages: (i) formal examination, and
(ii) examination about the existence of the absolute and relative grounds for refusal.
Any trademark application may enjoy a priority from an identical application filed in member-state of the Paris Convention within a 6-month period.
Each application, which satisfies the requirements as to proper form, and is not in conflict with the absolute grounds for refusal of registration, shall be published in the Official Bulletin of the Patent Office. Within three months after the date of publication of the application, any person may give notice of objection to the registration of the mark in pursuance of the absolute and relative grounds for refusal of registration. Within the same period holders of earlier rights may file an opposition against the trademark application based on the relative grounds for refusal of registration.
The term of protection of a registered mark is ten years from the date of filing the application. The registration may be renewed for an unlimited number of ten-year periods.
The registration of a trademark may be revoked if within a period of five years following the date of registration the owner has not put the mark to genuine use on the territory of Bulgaria or if such use has been suspended during an uninterrupted period of five years.
The Marks and Geographical Indications Act provides for detailed criteria for the recognition of a mark as well – known or as a mark of renown in compliance with the respective criteria applied by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). With the latest legislative amendments the disputed State Register of well-known and famous marks with the Patent Office was revoked.
2.4. Geographical Indications
The protection of a geographical indication is obtained by its registration at the Patent Office. Entitled to apply for registration is any person who carries out his production activity in the corresponding geographical region and the goods which he produces conform to the established properties and features. The geographical indication can be used by any recorded user.
2.5. Industrial Designs
The exclusive right on industrial design is obtained by its registration at the Patent Office.
The criteria for registration of industrial designs are world novelty and originality.
The procedure of registration consists of two stages: (i) formal examination, and (ii) examination about the presence of the criteria for registration.
The scope of protection of registered industrial design is determined by its representation(s) and includes any design which does not produce on the informed user a different overall impression. The exclusive right on registered industrial design includes the right of its owner to use it, to dispose of it and to prevent third parties from copying or using in the course of business activity a design included in the scope of protection.
The term of protection of registered industrial design is 10 years from the date of filing the application. It could be extended three times for further periods of 5 years, i.e. the maximum term of protection is 25 years.
Under Council Regulation (EC) No 6/2002 a Community design application filed with the OHIM with an established date of filing or priority date shall be deemed an application filed regularly on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. Civil legal protection in case of infringement of the rights over a Community design shall be carried out in accordance with the procedure set forth in Council Regulation (EC) No 6/2002.
The owner of a patent, registered mark or industrial design could assign the right of usage through a license agreement which should be recorded with the Patent Office. The License Agreement or at least an extract thereof has to be submitted to the Patent Office, containing the identification data of the licensor and the licensee, bibliographic data about the patent, trademark or industrial design, the kind of the license (exclusive or non-exclusive), the term of the agreement. The license agreement is in effect with regard to third parties as of the date of its recording in the State Register.