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What tarator and black friday have in common

The brand is the face of our business. It sets us apart from our competitors and is a valuable asset that we must take good care of. It is important to choose a name that is attractive, memorable, catchy, have a beautiful logo made by a trusted designer. However, it is equally important that we agree this name with an intellectual property lawyer before we begin to market it. Few marketers, as well as designers, including those offering a "naming" service, know that not every word, slogan and not every logo can be a trademark. Bulgarian and European laws impose numerous restrictions, and if we do not comply with them, the application for trademark registration will be refused.

The most common grounds for refusal are the hypotheses of descriptive marks. According to Art. 4, para. 1, item 4, ZMGO and art. 7 (1)(c), EUTMR, no trademark shall be registered which consists exclusively of signs indicating the type, quantity, quality, geographical origin, or other essential characteristic of the goods and services for which the trademark is applied for. Generally speaking - you cannot produce cheese under the brand name "Cheese". This is because the term cannot distinguish the goods of one trader from those of other traders in the same industry, which is the basic function of a trade mark, but also because the term should not be monopolized but should remain free for use by all business entities. My practice shows that Bulgarian entrepreneurs are not particularly creative and often stop at descriptive terms. If they did not consult a specialist and start to impose their brand on the market, after a while they fall into a situation where they cannot get registration. And the lack of registration leads to a lack of legal protection.

In Bulgaria, there have always been curious cases among the applied brands. My favorite example are two applications from 2004 and 2005 for the trademark "TARATOR", specifically for dairy foods and beverages. Both are denied. According to a colleague who worked on the case, the applicant's argument in the proceedings for the registration of the later mark was that the mark was written in Latin and should read "TAPATOP", but this argument was not accepted in the decision .

In 2014, the Romanian company Dante International SA, owner of the popular eMAG platform, claimed 4 "Black Friday" trademarks. Probably due to oversight by experts from the Patent Office, the applications successfully passed the examination process and were registered. It was only when information about the brands appeared in the media that some traders took legal action and the brands were removed. The ground for deletion here is the fact that the mark consists exclusively of a word or expression that has become common in the spoken language in relation to the services offered, as well as the lack of distinctiveness of the term.

The commonality between the two cases is that, upon consultation with a specialist, the two applicants would have been aware that their marks were contrary to the requirements of the law and would not have received registration. In the event of a refusal, the fees paid for the registration are lost, which, especially for European and international brands, are not small at all. If the imposition of the brand on the market has already begun, a complete rebranding of the activity is required, which is associated with significant costs.

About me: I graduated with a degree in Law in 2011 at the University of St. Kliment Ohridski". While I was still a student, I started working in the office, where I spent nearly 10 years and had the opportunity to learn from more experienced lawyers than myself. In 2020, I started an independent law practice and focused on the topic that is most interesting to me and in which I was already developing in-depth knowledge - intellectual property. I have hundreds of registered trademarks and a significant number of trademark and copyright lawsuits under my belt.

I like to refer to myself as a "digital lawyer". Starting my own practice nearly 3 years ago, I bought a printer and 2 sets of paper that I still haven't used up. I work entirely electronically, both with my clients and with the court, with the Patent Office and with the European Intellectual Property Office. Electronic communication saves time, which leads to the possibility of optimizing deadlines, better organization and efficiency. I have a significant presence on social networks, where I comment weekly on interesting cases from the world of intellectual property, with which I successfully develop and enforce the brand Advocate Diana Popova.



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