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East and Central Europe Market Intelligence

Legal Country Overviews
These are legal overviews of key CEE countries.


The flag of Overview:
The Bulgarian legal framework is very accommodating to foreign franchises. Currently, there are no franchise laws or specific regulations pertaining to this business model. In general, no specific registration or government approval is required in order to establish a franchise enterprise. Franchisors must comply with the provisions of the Bulgarian Commerce Law. No restrictions are imposed on repatriation of earnings, capital royalities, or interest. Intellectual property rights are recognized and protected.

The Investment Promotion Act, last amended in 2006, was designed to encourage foreign investments. The act stipulates equal treatment of foreign domestic investors and creates conditions for improved administrative services. It further includes an investment incentive package and encourages implementation of investment projects over a period of up to three years. It is this law that explicitly recognizes intellectual properties and securities as a foreign investment.

U.S. franchisors are further protected by the U.S.-Bulgarian Bilateral Investment Treaty from 1994. It includes obligations to U.S. investors such as national treatment and most favored nation status, the right to make financial transfers freely and without delay, international law standards for expropriation and compensation, and access to binding international arbitration.

The Bulgarian government has established the infrastructure neccessary to provide adequate and effective protection of intellectual property, Bulgarian law protects the acquisition and disposition of property rights. All intellectual property laws are harmonized with EU legislation, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, and other international acts. Bulgaria is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization and a signatory of the Paris Convention treaty's 171 contracting states, including the United States and most European countries, is equally recognized, protected and accessible domestically and abroad.

The registration of trademarks, trade services and all intellectual property is filed with the Bulgarian Patent and Trademark Office. The Council of Intellectual Property Protection, wich is a part of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, coordinates intellectual property protection and enforcement. The Bulgarian Commerce Law grants the exclusive right for a trade name to be used only by the merchant who has registered it. In case of infringment, the interested party is free to seek an injunction, as well as damages.

The Bulgarien Commerce Law also mandates that procurators, agents, assistants and representatives protect trade secrets and their good name as merchants. Business methods can be kept as a commercial and production secret under the Law on Protection of the Competition.


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