A new law on trademarks and geographical indications took effect in Bulgaria.
It changes national legislation Directive (EU) 2015/2436 of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 16, 2015 to approximate the laws of the EU member states with regards to trademarks, whilst the provisions on geographical indications are adjusted with Regulation (EU) No. 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs.
The new law introduces important alterations with respect to certain aspects of trademark substantive and procedural law, including a new set of absolute and relative grounds for refusal and cancellation, some of which entrench the scope of the Directive (EU) 2015/2436.
It also interprets the start date of the grace period for using an international trademark registration, putting an end to the uncertain practice of the Bulgarian PTO and the courts.
From now on, the grace period will be calculated from the date of publication of the international registration in the PTO's Official Bulletin.
In terms of enforcement, the new law better coordinates intermediary liability and obligations. It also alters the rules on administrative liability and strengthens border control measures.
The new law arranges termination of national GI registrations for agricultural products and foodstuffs made under the revoked legislation. In the future, such products will be secured as prescribed by Regulation (EU) No. 1151/2012.
The new law also lessens definite procedural deadlines before the Bulgarian PTO to accelerate the proceedings.
Late submission of documents and evidence will no longer be received unless the delay is justifiable. More explicit procedural rules for examination of applications for international trademark registrations are brought.
The new law also announces amendments about the official fee payment. At present, the fees are paid in stages – there is an independent filing fee, while the registration fee is due after the examination is accomplished. Henceforward, a single registration fee must be paid in full at the beginning of the proceedings. The registration fee amount and possibly other official fee changes will be regulated in the coming weeks.