Updated last 26.03.2021
In this section you can find the following information:
- What is the geographical indication?
- What conditions must the geographical indication meet, in order to be registered?
- What protection is provided by the geographical indications?
- What is the validity period of the geographical indication?
- What geographical scope of the mark I should choose – national, European or international?
What is the geographical indication?
Geographical indication means either a name of the origin or a geographical mark. The name of the origin is the name of a country, region or certain area in this country, serving for marking goods, which originate from there and which quality or characteristics are due mostly or exclusively to the geographical environment, including natural and human factors. Geographical mark is also related to the name of a country, region or certain area in this country, serving for marking goods, which originate from there and with quality, popularity or other feature, which could be attributed to this geographical origin.
What conditions must the geographical indication meet, in order to be registered?
- The sign, to be used for the geographical indication must identify the place, from which the product originates – many of the producers of traditional Bulgarian products (e.g., Bulgarian yoghurt and rakia) use geographical indication and it is easy to find out where the product comes from;
- The qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product must be due to its place of origin – in particular – yoghurt can only be produced in the region from which it originates, because cow graze specific grass, the product is introduced with a special culture, which can be found nowhere else, climate affects the production process, etc.;
- In order to be able to register a geographical indication, the name must not have become a generic name of the goods of a certain type, without any links to their place of production – e.g., Dobrudzha bread, which is made throughout Bulgaria (art. 87, section 1 of the Marks and Geographical Indications Act (MGIA));
- The name you have selected, cannot be the same with the name of an a plant species or animal breed, protected earlier, when there is a risk that consumers are misled, with respect to the true origin of the goods (art. 87, section 3 of the2, MGIA);
- The name of the geographical indication that you choose, must not be identical with the geographical indication or mark, registered earlier, for identical products (art. 87, section 3 of the MGIA);
- The name must not be identical or similar to the geographical indication or mark, registered earlier for identical or similar goods, when it is likely that consumers are misled – clients thinking that they are buying one product, while in fact they are buying a competitive one (art. 87, section 4 of the MGIA).
What protection is provided by the geographical indications?
|Important to know
Geographical indications do not provide individual exclusive rights, as is the case with the patents and trademarks. Once the protection is obtained, the geographical indication may be used by all producers in a certain geographical region, so long as they observe the standards and specific conditions for the production of the respective product. Every person, who carries out its production activity in the respective geographical area and the goods produced meet the specified qualities and specificities, has the right to apply for protection (art. 89, para. 1 of the MGIA).
More information on the legal protection of the registered geographical indication, you can find here.
What is the validity period of the geographical indication?
Geographical indications are not valid for a fixed period of time. This means that the protection is valid, until the registration is revoked. This happens when the connection between the goods’ quality and features and the geographical environment cease to exist, in case of termination of the legal entity – sole user without succession and the sole entered user of geographical indication waives his right to use the geographical indication.
What geographical scope of the geographical indication should I choose – national, European or international?
Geographical indications have territorial application, which means that the exclusive rights are only granted and executed within the geographical borders of the country, where these are registered. You can use three methods to register the geographical indication in one or more countries:
Through registration with the Patent Office in Bulgaria
The registration procedure of geographical indications on a national level is detailed on the official website of the Patent Office. The page contains also information for the entry of users. You can find forms of the necessary documents for the registration of the geographical indications and for the entry of users here.
|You can find information on all the payable fees for registration here.
Through the registration of protected designations of origin or protected geographical indications in the “European Register of Protected Designations of Origin and Protected Geographical Indications“ and of foods – traditional specialties in the “European register of Traditional specialities guaranteed“
On the website of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, in the “Protected Designations“ section Bulgarian producers may find information on:
- The registration procedure for protected designations of origin or protected geographical indications and traditional foods specialties;
- The definition of “protected designation of origin”, understood as a product, originating from a specific place, location, region or, in exceptional cases, country, which quality or characteristics are due mostly or exclusively to specific geographical environment with the inherent thereto natural and human factors, and which production stages are implemented in the said geographical region;
- The definition of “protected geographical indication”, understood as a product with origin from a specific location, region or country, which quality, reputation or other characteristics are attributed mostly to its geographical origin; and of which at least one stage of the production process is implemented in the said geographical region;
|Important to know
The difference between protected designation of origin and protected geographical indication consists in the fact that while at the protected designation of origin all stages of the production process, from extraction of raw materials to manufacture of the finished product are implemented in the said geographical region, at protected geographical indication at least one of the stages of the production process or product’s preparation should be implemented in the said geographical region.
- The definition of “food of traditionally specific nature” describing a specific product or food, which is a result of a manner of production, processing or composition, in conformity with the traditional practices for the said product or food, or which is produced of raw materials or ingredients, used traditionally for the product or food. The foods of traditionally specific nature are not mandatory connected to certain geographical region. The tradition is related to proven use at the domestic market for a period, allowing passing on from generation to generation. Such period is at least 30 years. And the specific nature means the particular specific of production, clearly distinguishing such product form any other similar products within the same category..
There you can also find the applicable national and European regulatory documents, which refer to geographical indications.
|Through registration in the European Union
|Through registration with the World Intellectual Property Organization in accordance with the provisions of the Lisbon Agreement
On the official website of the Patent Office of Bulgaria you can find detailed information, explaining:
- What the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin;
- What are the scope and form of protection, provided by the registration;
- Who can file an application for registration for international protection and under what conditions;
- What is the procedure, fees and the necessary documents for the submission of an international application.
|Important to know
Only if you have registered a name of the origin/geographical mark in Bulgaria, you can submit an application, via the Patent Office, to the international office of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for international registration of the same designation of origin.