Bulgarian PTO to Abolish ‘Class Heading Covers All’ Approach
As of March 1, 2013, the Bulgarian PTO will change its approach when interpreting the scope of protection when class headings are used in lists of goods and services in trademark applications and registrations.
Namely, national trademarks will not be registered under the “class heading covers all” approach but under the “means what it says” approach, meaning that the national trademark applicants listing class headings will have to clearly indicate whether they are seeking protection for all goods or services that fall within a particular class or only for the specific goods or services mentioned in the class heading.
The change follows the Court of Justice of the European Union’s June 19, 2012 decision in the IP Translator ‘class headings’ case (C-307/10 – Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys v Registrar of Trade Marks), after which all national PTOs in the EU and OHIM agreed to unify the approach.
Currently 17 out of 26 PTOs in the EU use the “means what it says” approach, while the other nine PTOs, including the Bulgarian PTO, use the “class heading covers all” approach where the class heading provides protection for all goods or services included in the alphabetical list of the class.
The differences in the interpretive approaches have led to legal uncertainty and lack of predictability in cases of claiming priority and seniority and in revocation, cancellation, examination and opposition proceedings.
The Bulgarian PTO will introduce the following basic rules:
If the applicant wishes the scope of trademark protection to cover all goods and services included in the alphabetical list of the particular class, the applicant must explicitly state on the application that “The application refers to all goods/services included in the alphabetical list of this class”.
If the applicant does not explicitly state that the scope of protection covers all goods and services in the alphabetical list of the particular class, the PTO will conclude that the applicant is seeking protection only for the goods or services mentioned in the class heading.
The change in the practice of the Bulgarian PTO will not affect trademark applications and registrations filed or processed prior to March 1, 2013.
By: Petia Petrova
For more information, please contact Petia Petrova at our Bulgaria office.
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