Amendments to the Bulgarian Law on Patents and Utility Model Registration
On October 30, 2020, the latest amendments to the Bulgarian Law on Patents and Utility Model Registration entered into force. The new provisions cover a variety of issues, such as the provision of electronic services by the Bulgarian patent office, the removal of the requirement for separate filing of a request for examination for Bulgarian patent applications, a reduction of the time limit for restoration of missed terms, a possibility for legal practitioners to represent clients before the Bulgarian patent office, the recognition of the profession of IP representative as a regulated profession, the possibility to use pending European opposition proceedings in order to effect a stay of proceedings for infringement of a patent in Bulgaria, and others. Some highlights: New electronic registers and services in the area of patents have been introduced, allowing applicants more options when filing various secondary documents related to the patent procedures. Removal of the requirement to file a separate request for examination for Bulgarian patent applications. Until now, a separate request for examination for national patents had to be filed until the end of the 13th month from filing the application. The removal of this requirement is a positive for applicants, since there is one less deadline to follow, thus lightening the administrative burden. Moreover, this removes a big trap for applicants without professional representatives. In the past, there have been instances where applicants, unaware of the requirement, lost their applications due to not filing a separate request for examination. Under the new rules, the fee for examination and publication of the application must still be paid, but the payment must now be made upon filing of the application, as opposed to within the 13-month period under the old provisions. The time limit to request restoration of rights has been significantly shortened. Under the new provisions, applicants can restore their rights within three months of the missed time limit, as long as the request is submitted no later than a month from the removal of the cause for the missed time limit. This is a big reduction from the previous deadlines of one year/three months respectively, and will undoubtedly be a disadvantage for applicants. It therefore becomes ever more important for deadlines to be followed very strictly. We expect that restoration requests at the Bulgarian Patent Office will decline significantly. Amended rules on staying of court proceedings. Until now, an infringement lawsuit could be stayed, if the potential infringer filed a demand for invalidity of a patent or for deletion the registration of a utility model at the Bulgarian patent office. However, opposition proceedings before the European patent office were not included in the law and therefore not considered. Now, this gap in the law is closed, as it explicitly mentions that an infringement lawsuit can also be stayed if there is a pending opposition procedure before the European Patent Office, or a similar procedure at the Unified Patent Court, when it starts operating. This is a step in a right direction, which was initiated by representatives of our profession, including our bureau. The procedure for obtaining supplementary protection certificates is now described in more detail, thus achieving better harmonization with the European regulations for such objects. Ultimately, the new provisions do introduce some much-awaited updates to the legislation. Nevertheless, the legal and procedural requirements remain complex. Contact our team in Bulgaria and let our experienced professionals guide you through the process and help you achieve your objectives. Contact us for expert advice in the area of Patents and Utility Models.