Bulgaria

Bulgaria has made significant efforts to comply with EU IP standards, but it remains a challenging country in terms of practical enforcement: the authorities are reportedly reluctant to treat trademark infringement as a serious offence and there is a shortfall of IP expertise among the judiciary. One current hot topic is the calculation of damages: while the European courts base this on the infringer’s profits, the more punitive national courts focus rather on turnover. Clarification on this point will soon be required. Despite the issues, practitioners remain optimistic about the future, highlighting in particular the promise shown by the next generation of trademark lawyers.

Firms

1
Bojinov & Bojinov Ltd Patent Trademark & Law Offices
Boyanov & Co
2
Arsis Consulting
Dimitrov, Petrov & Co
Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov
Kambourov & Partners, Attorneys at Law
Manev&Partners
Wolf Theiss Sofia
Arsis Consulting
Since its establishment in 1991, Arsis Consulting has relentlessly taken the fight to the counterfeiters. A specialised investigative unit works in concert with the firm’s renowned IP sages to mastermind sophisticated enforcement programmes on behalf of household names including adidas, Nike, Converse and Nokia. Leading light Velizar Sokolov “is a really socially engaged person and a true advocate of the freedom of creation. He has been enlightening state officers and politicians as to the importance of intellectual property and seriously understands the customs regulations”. Teammate Biliana Magardichian makes her WTR 1000 debut this year. With an impressive track record before the Bulgarian Patent Office (BPO), she is a “brilliant young expert who is very skilled, smart and has a strong future in the business”.
Bojinov & Bojinov Ltd Patent Trademark & Law Offices
The “truly excellent” Bojinov & Bojinov is “one of the main players in Bulgaria”. It has the know-how to realise even the most complex trademark strategies, from registration to enforcement. Its members are hailed as “fantastic IP professionals” – a reflection of the team’s strength in depth. Unquestionably, however, the lodestone remains founding partner Fani Bojinov: “She is very experienced in the full range of trademark matters, contentious and non-contentious – the doyenne of trademark law in the country.” Having tried over 100 cases, she has seen almost everything there is to see in the trademark arena; her client roster includes big names from the telecommunications, software and pharmaceutical sectors.
Boyanov & Co
Boyanov & Co has a “leading reputation”, thanks to its “superb knowledge of the law”; it “is very responsive, hands-on and committed to getting the best results for clients”. With a progressive, resolutely commercial outlook, it consistently meets and exceeds the needs of clients; “it has exactly what we look for in a firm,” enthuses one. Recent highlights include representing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in a significant opposition proceeding before the BPO and finally putting to bed a protracted, high-profile infringement case for Coca-Cola. WTR 1000 neophyte Marina Mollova took the lead on this matter; filing, prosecution and portfolio management are all fortes. Stela Sabeva is “particularly skilled in handling international clients and explaining court processes that are hard to understand as a foreign lawyer. Her English is on a par with that of any native speaker”. One client remarks: “I have been particularly impressed with her concise, to-the-point advice. There are many plates to be kept from smashing on the floor, but I have never seen even a wobble from her.” Assisting LVMH Group on customs seizures of counterfeit perfumes and watches, Kina Chuturkova is a “strong litigator who considers all angles of a matter and then provides robust advice”. Natasha Andreeva “truly understands the legal process. She has excellent contacts and always knows who to call. She is very experienced when it comes to technicalities”.
Dimitrov, Petrov & Co
With its finger on the pulse of new trends and e-commerce insight, Dimitrov, Petrov & Co is a favourite among technology companies. “The team really follows international moves and shakes and has professionals you can reliably turn to when you have an internet-related issue.” It has recently been assisting Cash Credit JSCo – a leading tech-based non-banking credit institution – with its portfolio management and EU trademark prosecution. Plamena Georgieva is “really meticulous and attentive to detail. Her work is professional, relevant and always delivered on time”.
Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov
Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov continues to make waves on both sides of the contentious/non-contentious divide. Headquartered in Sofia, but with a second office in Berlin, it has enviable experience before the BPO and the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), and can service clients in German, English and French. IP team head Kalina Tchakarova is a trusted ally of major food and beverage concerns: she has been providing strategic branding advice to Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits and Carlsberg Breweries, and enforcement counsel to Solen Cikolata Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret as regards its BOBO CORNET case. The versatile Teodora Tsenova has notable experience in due diligence and technology-transfer contract negotiations; she counts Deutsche Telekom as a client.
Kambourov & Partners, Attorneys at Law
Turning heads of late in the Bulgarian IP world, Kambourov & Partners breaks into the WTR 1000 for 2017. Established in 1988, the full-service firm provides a holistic offering, providing perspicacious counsel laced with commercial acumen. Its client base includes both leading local companies and heavyweight multinationals. Margarita Guigova is unquestionably the team’s trademark star: “She is among the top professionals. She’s very flexible – not someone who says she’ll carry a court case through to the end no matter what the cost to her client. She’s strategic: she thinks about the long-term impact of her moves and knows how to negotiate.”
Manev&Partners
Manev&Partners casts an imposing shadow on the Bulgarian trademark scene. Intellectual property has been a central pillar of its offering since it opened its doors in 1993 – it has handled every conceivable instruction in the field for clients of all stripes. The engine of its continued success is celebrated founder Kostadin Manev, who draws warm plaudits from peers. “He is very charismatic and knowledgeable, and he knows how to captivate an audience. He has a fantastic client base too. Being an ex-president of the BPO, he is familiar with the workings of the system and has excellent connections.” He speaks English, Russian and German – a real asset for international clients – and lectures at the National Institute of Justice. Aleksandra Semerdzhieva “has been involved in so many court cases. She has extensive experience and is one of the top litigators in Bulgaria”. The “young, dynamic and enthusiastic lawyers” at Pavlov & Co “do their very best for clients – they always act in their clients’ best interests”. The firm has recently been acting on behalf of ePay, which runs the first electronic payment system in Bulgaria, and Chernomorsko Zlato over the protection of an iconic bitter-sweet liqueur brand. Founding partner Vasil Pavlov is “one of the best IP litigators in the country. He is a very smart and sharp professional, who does his homework perfectly”. He has spearheaded any number of border control measures, makes frequent appearances before the BPO and the EUIPO and has a real flair for geographical indication cases.
Wolf Theiss Sofia
Supported by the firm’s stellar corporate and commercial practices, the trademark team at Wolf Theiss has a sparkling reputation in the business world. Recent highlights advising the founders of prominent insurance software solution provider Fadata on the sale of a majority stake to Riverside Private Equity and the transfer of all of its IP assets to Target. Having represented an array of clients before the Bulgarian Commission for the Protection of Competition, Dessislava Iordanova provides trademark advice which is informed by her unparalleled unfair competition and antitrust knowledge. “She is an excellent professional with a very bright future.” Zivko Mijatovic & Partners’ Bulgarian IP team is supported by 11 further offices throughout Southeast Europe and a well-connected liaison office in Alicante. This network has made it extremely popular with multinational clients, especially those with EU trademarks to file or maintain. Leading the team is the redoubtable Tsvetomira Vasileva, who earns plaudits for her “swift responses, strong counsel, clear explanations and intellect”. Having spent over 14 years in the game, she has handled her fair share of both contentious and non-contentious matters.

Individuals

Highly recommended
Plamena Georgieva - Dimitrov, Petrov & Co
Vasil Pavlov - Pavlov & Co
Recommended
Natasha Andreeva - Boyanov & Co
Fani V Bojinova - Bojinov & Bojinov Ltd Patent Trademark & Law Offices
Kina Chuturkova - Boyanov & Co
Margarita Guigova - Kambourov & Partners, Attorneys at Law
Dessislava Iordanova - Wolf Theiss Sofia
Biliana Magardichian - Arsis Consulting
Kostadin Manev - Manev&Partners
Marina Mollova - Boyanov & Co
Stela Sabeva - Boyanov & Co
Aleksandra Semerdzhieva - Manev&Partners
Stoyan Sirakov - Interius
Olga Sirakova - Interius
Velizar Sokolov - Arsis Consulting
Kalina S Tchakarova - Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov
Teodora Tsenova - Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov
Tsvetomira Vasileva - Zivko Mijatovic & Partners
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Issue 67