Industrial design

Updated last 26.03.2021

In this section you can find the following information:

  • What is industrial design?
  • What can be registered as industrial design?
  • What rights are granted to the industrial design owner?
  • What is the validity period of the industrial design?
  • National, European or international industrial design?

What is industrial design?

The conditions and provisions for industrial design registration, the rights arising thereof and the protection of these rights are settled in the Industrial Design Act.

Industrial design is the unique visible appearance of a product or parts thereof, and is determined based on the following characteristics:

  • Product lines;
  • Pattern of the product;
  • Outline of the product;
  • Shape of the product;
  • Colours of the product;
  • Ornaments (3D shapes, giving a special character to the appearance of the products or goods).

Product is each item (of goods), received in an industrial or craftsmanship manner, including parts, intended for assembly in a composite item, set or composition of items, packing, graphical symbols and print letters, with the exception of computer programs.

The design must be aesthetic and it should be subject to industrial production. This is why it is referred to as “Industrial design“.

According to the EU Intellectual Property Office designs are everywhere. Everything one touches has a design. You can learn more about the industrial design and the benefits of registration of your product here.

What can be registered as industrial design?

Every product (including and parts thereof, intended for the assembly of a composite product, set or composition of products), obtained through industrial or craftsman methods, may be registered as industrial design. Packaging, logos and print fonts can be registered as industrial design.

Important to know
Important to know

Computer software (which are not considered product within the meaning of the law) and design in conflict with public order and good moral cannot be registered as industrial design. It is impossible to register design, the specificities of which are not based on its appearance, but only on its the technical functions, as well as of a design the specific features of which are solely determined by the necessity for the product, in which the design is incorporated or to which it is applied, to be mechanically assembled or put in, around or opposite to another product, so that both products perform their functions, with the exception of a design intended to allow the multiple assembly or connection of interchangeable products within a modular system. (art. 11 of the Industrial Designs Act (IDA)).

In order to meet the requirements for registration of industrial design, similarly to the patents for inventions and utility models, a product must have the following characteristics:

  • Novelty – a design shall be considered new if, prior to the filing date or the priority date, as appropriate, of the application no identical design has been made available to the public by means of publication, use, registration or otherwise disclosed anywhere in the world (article 12 of the Industrial Design Act).;
  • Individual character – a design shall be considered to have an individual character, if the overall impression it conveys on the consumer differs from the overall impression conveyed by a design that has been made available to the public earlier. In order to assess the individual character, the degree of freedom of the designer, when creating the design shall be considered (art. 13 of the IDA).

Important to know
Important to know

When you want to register a a product, `which is part of a composite product, in order to be eligible for protection, such part must remain visible during the normal use of the product and at the same time it must comply with the “novelty” and “individual character” characteristics.

What rights are granted to the industrial design owner?

When registering an industrial design, its owner obtains the following rights, which enable him:

  • To produce the design;
  • To place it on the market, where the protection scope applies;
  • To use a product, in which a design from the protection scope is incorporated or to which it is attached;
  • To import, export or store it;
  • To dispose of it;
  • To prohibit any third parties to copy or use the design, included in the scope of protection, in their business, without his consent.

Important to know
Important to know

The person who has created a design has the right of authorship under the IDA. This right is unlimited in time and shall not be transferable and it enjoys the protection afforded by the IDA, irrespective of the protection afforded by other Laws (art. 4, para. 1 of the IDA). It is important to distinguish, as indicated by the World Intellectual Property Organization, between the industrial design as a form of industrial property protection and the copyright as a form of intellectual property protection. The products, protected by Industrial design, are subject to industrial production, and the works of art are not.

What is the validity period of the industrial design?

The validity period of the registration of the design is 10 years, starting from the date of filing the application. The registration may be renewed for three successive period of 5 years each. The maximum duration of the registration cannot exceed 25 years.

National, European or international industrial design?

The industrial design has territorial application, which means that the exclusive rights are granted and exercised only within the geographical borders of the country, where these are registered. There are three methods to acquire protection in one or more countries:

First point

Through registration with the Patent Office in Bulgaria

The registration procedure on a national level is detailed on the official website of the Patent Office and the e-services portal, offered by the Office.

On the website of the portal there is a section with guidelines for application for industrial design online. The guidelines follow each step in the procedure and contain visualizations, showing where and what information needs to be entered.

Important to know
Important to know

The guidelines, available on the e-services portal of the Patent Office are regularly updated, in accordance with the latest amendments to the applicable legislation.

The proceedings before the Patent Office commences with filing of an application for industrial design registration as per sample form. The application is filed personally, through a legal council (attorney-at-law) or through an industrial property representative. If the person has no permanent address or head office in the Republic of Bulgaria or another member – state of the European Union, in a country, member of the Agreement on the European Economic area or the Swiss Confederation, the person is entitled to perform activities before the Patent Office only through an attorney-at-law or through a local representative on industrial property.

The application may be filed directly in the Patent Office at specifically designated registration counter, through a licensed postal operator, through communication device, transmitting faxes, electronically at the Patent Office contact e-mail and through the Patent Office electronic administrative services portal.

The following documents shall be attached to the application:

  • a power of attorney, when the application is filed through an industrial property representative;
  • priority document, when priority is claimed;
  • document for paid fees. The fees collected by the Patent Office in the proceedings on registration are available here.

When the application is submitted electronically, the scanned images of the required documents are attached. When the application is submitted through the e-mail or through communication device, transmitting faxes or electronic copies, the original of the application should be submitted to the Patent Office within one month. In such case the date of the receipt of the email is considered the application date. For filing through the Patent Office electronic administrative services portal no qualified electronic signature is required on the application. When the application is filed via fax or electronically and it meets the date requirements, and the original is received in the Patent Office after the expiration of the one month term, the date of the receipt of the original documents in the office shall be considered the date of the receipt. When the application is filed via fax or electronically with black-and-white images and meets the date requirements, and color images are attached to the original, the date of the Patent Office’s receipt of the color images is considered the application’s filing date.

After the receipt of the application it is registered as received and sent to the specialized directorate in view of the performance of verification for regularity and establishment of the application’s filing date. The filing date is established when presented are:

  • the application for registration;
  • applicant name and address;
  • one or several graphical or photographic images, which clearly and completely show the design for which protection is requested.

At cumulative existence of all premises, the expert dates the application, and it is entered in the Patent Office Entry Register for design applications. The applicant is notified in writing for its entry number and the established filing date.

If any of the stipulated premises is missing, the applicant is sent a notification that the application is not considered filed.

Important to know
Important to know

For each application with established filing date it is verified whether there is an attached thereto document for paid fees for applying, experts’ opinion and postponement of the publication of the registration, if such is requested. When such document is not attached, the applicant is granted a one month term for remedying that. Up to one month after the expiration of the term the fees could be paid in double amount.

For applications with established filing date and presented evidence for paid fees a formal experts’ report is prepared, at which it is verified whether the requirements of the legal framework to the application are met. If deficiencies are found, the applicant is granted two months term for remedying thereof. If the applicant fails to remedy the deficiencies within the term set, the proceedings are terminated.

When a priority claim is made, after the formal experts’ report it is verified if evidence is presented in view of the priority claim made and if the fee for the claim made is paid. In case the priority claim does not meet the legal requirements, it shall not be considered and the applicant shall be duly notified for that.

Within two months after the expiration of the term for remedying the deficiencies and when they are remedied, a substantive experts’ review is performed, which includes verification whether the respective design meets the stipulated in the law criteria – if the applied-for constitutes a design and if it meets the requirements for novelty and originality, as well as that it is not contrary to the public policy or the principles of morality. When the application meets the legal requirements, the applicant is sent a notification, granting him one month for payment of the fees for registration, issuance of a registration certificate and publication. Up to one month after the expiration of this term the fees could be paid in double amount. When the fees are paid, decision is made for registration of the design and within one month a registration certificate is issued. If the fees are not paid, the application shall be considered withdrawn.

Important to know
Important to know

The law provides an option for postponement of the registration’s publication for a term of up to 30 months, considered from application’s filing date, respectively from the priority date, as appropriate. The request for postponing the registration’s publication could be made only with the application for registration and it should be accompanied by a document for paid fee. The postponed publication means that at decision for registration of the design, it shall be entered in the National Register of Industrial Designs, but no public access will be granted to the registered design and to its file.

Second point

Through registration in EU – Community design

In relation to receiving protection of an industrial design at the whole EU territory detailed information is provided at the internet page of the European Union Intellectual Property Office. What protection is provided by the Community design, what are the advantages of this registration and what are the differences with the international law protection under the Hague Agreement you may learn also from the Patent Office internet page.

Important to know
Important to know

These and many other resources are accessible in Bulgarian on the official website of the EU Intellectual Property Office.

Third point

Through registration in the World Intellectual Property Organisation under the Hgue Convention (international protection)

On the official website of the Patent Office of Bulgaria you can find detailed information, describing:

  • What the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs;
  • What are the advantages of the international protection of industrial designs;
  • Who can file for registration of international protection;
  • What is the validity period of the protection;
  • What are the necessary documents for the submission of an international application;
  • What are the rules and procedure for the submission of an international application.

Important to know
Important to know

You can find guidelines on the completion and filing of an application for international protection, as well as all the necessary documents on the official website of the World Intellectual Property Organization

For more information
For more information

For more and complete information on the industrial design registration procedure and the related regulatory framework please visit the website of the: