Regulation on Opposition Procedure Enters into Force in Bulgaria
Further to the amendments to the Bulgarian Law on Marks and Geographical Indications, which introduced the opposition system, the regulation outlining the procedure for drafting, submitting and examining the opposition notices was published in the Official Gazette No. 43 and entered into force on June 11, 2011.
Below we describe the procedure.
The regulation stipulates that opposition proceedings are initiated after the opposition notice is filed with the Bulgarian Patent Office (BPO) and the opposition fee paid. The Opposition Division committee examines the opposition and verifies whether the notice is admissible and whether it complies with the formal requirements set out in the regulation.
If the notice is found inadmissible due to absolute deficiencies, i.e. deficiencies that cannot be remedied after the expiration of the opposition period, the committee notifies the opponent that opposition proceedings cannot be initiated. If the committee determines that the opposition is inadmissible due to relative deficiencies, i.e. deficiencies that can be remedied after the expiration of the opposition period, the committee invites the opponent to remedy the deficiency within a non-extendible period of two months.
If the notice of opposition is found admissible, the committee notifies the trademark applicant and the opponent about the start of the opposition proceedings. The proceedings begin with a three-month cooling-off period during which the parties can reach an agreement. Upon the parties’ request, the cooling-off period can be extended twice for three months and can last a total of nine months.
Once the cooling-off period has expired, the adversarial part of the proceedings begins. At this stage, the trademark applicant is invited to submit a reply to the opposition within two months. If no response is filed, the committee renders a decision based on the evidence in support of the opposition. If a reply has been filed, the latter is sent to the opponent who is given one month to submit an observation. Finally, the applicant is given an opportunity to comment on the observation of the opponent, provided that it contains new arguments or evidence.
In the reply to the opposition notice, the applicant may dispute the use of the opponent’s trademark by filing a request for proof of use. In such a case, the opponent is given two months to furnish proof that the earlier trademark has been put to genuine use or that there are genuine reasons for non-use. If no evidence is filed or if the evidence is found insufficient, the opposition is rejected.
Within six months after the completion of the exchange of correspondence between the parties, the committee renders a decision on the opposition.
For more information, please contact Ana Dremsizova at our Bulgaria office.
Source: Bulgarian Patent Office (BPO)
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