Forms of protection of the R&D in the business

Updated last 26.03.2021

General information

All rights, arising from people’s intellectual activities in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic area, are eligible for protection by the intellectual property (IP) law. IP is divided into:


Copyright and neighbouring rights

Industrial property

Industrial property

Trade secrets

Trade secrets

Forms of protection of the R&D in the business

Different forms of R&D are eligible to different types of protection. It is important to be aware of these types, so that you can benefit as fully as possible from the most appropriate form of protection for your business:

Form of IP Suitable for Example

1. Trade secrets

confidential business information

know-how, lists of suppliers and customers, production methods, etc.

2. Copyright and neighbouring rights

Works of art, literature and science

Neighboring rights – rights of artists – performers, producers, of radio – television organizations


Musical works

Paintings, sculptures, realized architectural projects




Electronic databases

3. Industrial property


Electric lightbulb


Portable coffee-maker

appearance of goods and products

Lines, shapes, colours and materials, of which a product is made

Distinctive signs

Company’s logo

Products, of special geographic origin

The name of mineral water

Important to know
Important to know

The significance of the protection of the intellectual property was recognized for the first time in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886). Now both treaties are managed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).



The system of copyright laws protect authors of the works of literature, music, science or other intellectual labour, providing them with exclusive, but limited rights, enabling them to decide who and how can use, reproduce and distribute their works.

What are the objects of copyright?

The objects of copyright (art. 3, para. 1, para. 2 of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act) are:

  • Literary works, including works of scientific and technical literature, publicism and computer software;
  • Musical works;
  • Performing arts works: dramatic or dramatico-musical works, entertainments in dumb show, choreography, etc.;
  • Films and other audio-visual material;
  • Works of fine art, including works of applied art, design and crafts;
  • Architectural works and applied development plans;
  • Photographic works to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to photography;
  • Approved architectural designs, approved urban planning designs, blueprints, maps, sketches, plans and others related to architecture, urban planning, geography, topography, museum research and any other area of science and technology;
  • Graphic design of publications;
  • Cadastral maps and state topographic maps.
  • Translations and adaptations of existing works and folklore;
  • Arrangements of musical works and folklore;
  • Periodicals, encyclopaedias, collected works, anthologies, bibliographies, data bases and other similar objects that include two or more works or products;
  • a part of a work, as well as the preparatory preliminary drawings, plans and other similar.

What are the rights, available to the authors?

The term “copyright“ refers to the actions, related to the actions of usage, including reproductio of works of art, which can be undertaken by their author or with her/his consent – by third parties, to whom the author has granted such right with a licensing agreement. Copyright protects the economic and moral rights of authors. The economic rights enable authors to derive financial benefit, allowing the use of their works by third parties. Moral rights help authors preserve and protect the connection with their works. The types of copyrights are further divided into non-economic (art. 15 of theCopyright and Neighbouring Rights Act) and economic rights (art. 18 of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act).

For more information
For more information

For more information on copyright and the related regulatory framework please refer to the website of the:

Industrial property

Industrial property

Owning Industrial property means to own the rights to the intangible goods, which you have created or obtained, deriving profit from them and controlling the manner of their use. The most common forms of industrial property are:

Important to know
Important to know

According to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Industrial property shall be understood in the broadest sense and shall apply not only to industry and commerce proper, but likewise to agricultural and extractive industries and to all manufactured or natural products, for example, wines, grain, tobacco leaf, fruit, cattle, minerals, mineral waters, beer, flowers, and flour.

What is the difference between „industrial property“ and „copyright“?

The difference between industrial property and copyright can be clearly illustrated by comparing an invention and a work of literature/art:

  • Inventions are new technical solutions to an existing problem. These new solutions are protected by law, as such. It is not necessary for an invention to exist physically, in order to be protected by a patent. The protection, provided to inventors, is protection against any use of the invention, without their permission. If another inventor creates something that has already been invented, without copying or being aware of it, he must obtain permission, for subsequently use such an invention.
  • Copyright, unlike industrial property, protects only the physical manifestation of a work of literature or art (an existing book, film, picture, etc.), and not the mere idea thereof. The idea of a work of art/literature may not be new and original, but the means of expression, used by the author to create it, must be original. The means of expression of the work of art/literature (words, musical composition, colours and shapes) are subject to copyright protection. The owner of the copyright is protected from those, who somehow want to copy or use the original work or parts thereof.

Important to know
Important to know

Different forms of R&D are eligible to different types of legal protection. For more information see Responsible institutions for protection and submission of complaints in case of intellectual property right infringements.

Trade secrets

Trade secrets

What is a trade secret?

Trade secret could be any trade and commercial information, know-how and technological information. Тherefore many different types of information may be protected as trade secrets (e.g., lists of clients, business plans, recipes and production processes).

The Trade Secret Protection Act provides protection against any illegal acquisition, use and disclosure of trade secrets.

In order to classify as a trade secret, information must meet the following conditions (article 3 of the Trade Secret Protection Act):

  • to represent a secret, i.e. the information should not be public knowledge or easily accessible for persons from the circles, which usually use such type of information;
  • to have commercial value;
  • measures have been undertaken for keeping such information a secret (e.g., storing confidential information in a different manner than any other type of information, signing confidentiality agreements or including confidentiality clauses in their contracts with employees, partners and providers)

Important to know
Important to know

The confidentiality agreement is a legally binding agreement, where one party (the company) agrees to provide another party (employee, partner, supplier, etc.) with confidential information. By signing the agreement, the second party agrees not to disclose any such information, according to the terms and conditions, set out in the agreement.

What rights do the owners of trade secrets have?

The right of protection of the trade secret arises after it is infringed as a result of illegal obtainment, usage or disclosure (article 8, paragraph 1 of the Act). The obtainment of a trade secret without the consent of its owner is considered illegal, when it is done through:

  1. unregulated access, misappropriation or copying of documents, personal items, materials, substances or electronic documents, over which rightful control is exercised by the owner of the trade secret and which contain trade secret or information, from which the secret could be obtained;
  2. other behavior, which contradicts to the bona fide commercial practice within the meaning of the Protection of Competition Act.

The use or disclosure of trade secret without the consent of the owner thereof is considered illegal, when it is done by a person, who:

  1. has obtained illegally the trade secret, or
  2. has breached a confidentiality agreement or other obligation for non-disclosure of the trade secret, or
  3. has breached an obligation for restricting the use of the trade secret.

The obtainment, use or disclosure of the trade secret is considered illegal also when at the moment of the obtainment, use or disclosure thereof the person has known or should have known that the trade secret has been received directly or indirectly by another person, who has used or disclosed it illegally. The manufacture, the offer and marketing of goods, as well as the import, export or storage thereof with such purpose is considered illegal use of the trade secret, when the perpetrator has know or should have known that the trade secret is used illegally.

The obtainment, use or disclosure of trade secret is not considered illegal in the following cases:

  1. at exercising the right to freedom of expression and right of access to information within the meaning of the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights, including the respecting the freedom and pluralism of the media;
  2. for solving crimes, for discovery of violations or another illegal acts, when such is done with the purpose of protection of the public interest;
  3. when employees or workers disclose trade secret to their representatives within the legal exercising of the representation functions in accordance with the Union law or the Bulgarian legislation, if the disclosure has been necessary for the exercising of such functions;
  4. for protection of an interest, recognized by the Union law or the Bulgarian legislation.

In case of illegal obtainment, use or disclosure the trade secret’s owner is entitled to file a claim before the court under the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code.

The obtainment, use or disclosure of production or trade secret in contradiction to the bona fide commercial and trade practice is considered a form of unfair competition and is punishable under the conditions and provisions of the Protection of Competition Act (article 37 of the Act).

For more information
For more information

For more information on trade secrets please refer to the website of the: