Updated last 26.03.2021
In this section you can find the following information:
- What are invention and patent?
- What rights does the patent owner obtain?
- Which inventions are eligible/ineligible for patenting?
- What does patentability of the invention mean?
- What is the validity period of a patent?
- What geographical scope of my patent should I choose – national, European or international?
What are invention and patent?
Most laws, regulating the protection of inventions, do not contain a clear definition of an invention. In a number of states, Bulgaria included, the national legislation sets the definition patentable invention through its main characteristics – novelty, inventive step and industrial application (article 6 of the Patents and Utility Models Registration Act). The legal protection of the invention is provided through a patent, which evidences the exclusive right of its holder to the innovative product or process (the invention). Patents or more commonly referred to as invention patents, are the most common method of protection of technical inventions. The patenting system aims at encouraging innovations, transfer and distribution of new knowledge and new technologies, while at the same time it provides advantages to inventors, users of innovations and the general public.
What rights does the patent owner obtain?
The patent owner may use their invention and give permission or licenses for the use of the invention to any third parties subject to specific contractual conditions. The patent owner may sell the rights to the invention to another person, who will then become the new patent owner.
The patent owner is entitled to decide who can and who cannot use the patented invention throughout the period, when the invention is protected. In other words, patent protection means mainly that the invention cannot be manufactured, used, distributed, imported or sold by another person without patent owner’s consent (art. 19 of the PUMRA).
Which inventions are eligible/ineligible for patenting?
Patents may be granted for inventions in any area of technology, from household kitchen equipment to chips, developed, based on nanotechnology (art. 6 of the PUMRA). The invention may be a product (e.g., chemical compound) or a method (e.g., method for producing a specific chemical compound).
No discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods, artistic work results, schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, computer programs or the way of presention information, are patentable (art. 6, para 2 of the PUMRA. It is prohibited to patent methods of cloning human beings; methods of altering the genetic identity of human embryo; use of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes; methods of modifying the genetic identity of animals, where this may cause them suffering without any substantial use from a medical point of view for humans or animals, as well as of animals obtained by such methods; methods for treatment of the human or animal body by therapy or surgery, as well as diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body. This shall not apply to products, in particular substances or compositions, for use in any of these methods; plant or animal varieties; essentially biological processes for obtaining plants and animals (art. 7 of the PUMRA).
What does patentability of inventions mean?
Inventions must meet the following conditions, described in the legislation, as patentability of the inventions:
- Novelty – An invention is considered to be new, if it has a feature, which does not form part of the state of the art (art. 8 of the PUMRA). The state of the art includes everything that has become publicly available through written or oral description, use or which has been otherwise disclosed anywhere in the world prior to the data of submission of the patent application, respectively the priority date.
- Inventive Step – for the creation of the invention an inventive step has been needed, i.e. the invention does not arise out in an evident manner of the state of the art for a specialist in the particular sphere. (art. 9 of the PUMRA).
|Important to know|
The novelty and inventive step conditions must have been met by a certain date. Generally, this is the date, on which the patent application is filed. An exception to this rule is specified in the Paris Convention, as the candidate’s right of priority. This means, that if you are an inventor, who submits a patent application for an invention in Bulgaria, and later you submit a patent application for the same invention in France, the novelty and inventive step conditions shall apply as of the date of submission of the application in Bulgaria. In this case, the application, submitted in France at a later date, shall have priority over the applications by candidates, who have submitted applications between the submission date in Bulgaria and the submission date in France, if the period between between these two dates does not exceed 12 months.
- Industrial application – the invention must be applicable in practice or somehow usable in the industry. Industrially applicable are inventions, the subject matter of which can be produced or used on multiple occasions, in any sector of the industry and agriculture (art. 10 of the PUMRA).
- Disclosure, which is not prejudicial to novelty – the disclosure of the invention shall not be prejudicial to novelty, when such disclosure has occurred within six months prior to the filing date of the invention application, respectively prior to the priority date, and is a result of: evident abuse in relation to the applicant or his legal predecessor; displaying the invention at official or officially recognized exhibition by the applicant or his legal predecessor, if the applicant declares the display of the invention at submission of the application and presents evidence to that regard within three months from the filing date of the application (art. 11 of the PUMRA).
What is the validity period of a patent?
Patent protection is provided for a limited period of time, usually 20 years from the application submission date (art. 16 of the PUMRA).
The date of the receipt of the following documents in the Patent Office (the European Patent Office respectively) is considered the filing date of the application (article 34 of the Patents and Utility Models Registration Act): (art. 34 of the PUMRA):
- Patent application with name of the invention, for which issuance of a patent is requested, as well as with the identification data of the applicant in Bulgarian language (for a national patent) and in English, French or German (for European patent).
- The description of the invention, included in the application, must disclose at least its significant elements.
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When an invention is patented, the patent owner has the right to limit other persons from using it in that period. Upon the expiration of the protection period, everybody can use the patent for commercial purposes, without infringement to inventor’s rights.
What geographical scope of my patent should I choose – national, European or international patent?
Patents are territorial rights. In general, the exclusive rights are only applicable in the country or region, where the patent was applied for and obtained, in conformity with the law of the respective country or region. When applying for a patent, you can choose whether to apply on a national, European or international level. It is advisable to make an informed decision, reviewing the procedure for applying for:
A national patent
When applying for a patent, only valid on the territory of a single country, you should follow the applicable legislation in the respective country. Here you can find out more about the application procedure in Bulgaria.
When you plan to protect your invention in multiple Member States of the European Patent Convention (EPC) you may fulfil the single European procedure, in order to obtain an European patent or European patent in conformity with the EPC, which is applicable to all the desired countries in the EPC. On the official website of the European Patent Office you can find a practical guide, which can help you fill-in your application for European patent or patent in conformity with the European Patent Convention. The official languages, which you can use to fill-in your patent application to the European Patent Office, are English, French and German. You can fill in and sent the application in person, by fax or by mail to any of the three branches of the European Patent Office in Munich, the Hague or Berlin. Office’s representatives also encourage candidates to use the special application software. For more information please visit the official website of the European Patent Office or the website of the Patent Office.
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The European legislation (Regulation (EU) No 1257/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection, Council Regulation (EU) No 1260/2012 of 17 December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements and the Agreement on an Unified Patent Court) provides for the introduction of two new instruments for protection of the industrial property, which will supplement and strengthen the existing centralized European patent granting system. They are the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court. The unitary patent will be the most advantageous option for patent protection in the 26 member – states of the European Union (Spain and Croatia participate in the enhanced cooperation) and there will be no need for it to be validated by the industrial property’s national representation in the individual states. The adoption of the new uniform patent protection system depends on the entry in effect of the Agreement on an Unified Patent Court. It is expected for this to happen in the beginning of 2022.You can learn more about the unified patent and how to obtain, maintain and manage such on the website of the European Patent Office .
You can seek patent protection in 153 countries with a single application and against a single set of fees, if you apply for patent through the international patent system/the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). On the official website of the WIPO you can find training materials on how to fill-in your international patent application. Information for the submission of an international patent application is available at the internet page of the Patent Office.