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Amendments to Trademark Laws

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Apr 15, 2010 (Newsletter Issue 9/10)
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Adoption of Amendments to Trademark Law

On February 26, 2010, Bulgaria’s National Assembly adopted the draft Law amending the Law on Marks and Geographical Indications. The law was published in the Official Gazette on March 9, 2010 and enters into force in June 2010.

The draft law abolishes the previous practice of substantive examination and introduces opposition procedures. Previously, the Bulgarian Patent Office (BPO) had to examine the mark ex officio on both the absolute and the relative grounds for refusal, regardless whether an opposition has been filed or not.

Under the new system, trademark application will be examined on absolute grounds only and if it meets the requirements, it will be published in the Official Gazette of the BPO. Third parties have three months from the date of publication to file an opposition by submitting a written opposition.

This model corresponds to the examination procedure performed by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) - OHIM, which manages Community Trade Marks and Community Designs within the European Union. The transitional and final provisions state that the rules governing the opposition procedure will enter into force 12 months after the law’s promulgation in the Official Gazette.

Another novelty concerns the State Register of Trademarks and the State Register of Geographical Indications maintained by the BPO. The BPO will from now on maintain all files in paper and electronic form. The electronic form will be published on the official website of the BPO and will be available to everyone. The application for registration of a mark or geographical indication can now be filed electronically.

The new system aims to shorten the process of issuing trademark registration and to achieve full compliance with the relevant EU regulations.