Archive / News in the Legislation
New Ordinance regarding the Industrial Property representatives
A new Ordinance for the Industrial Property Representatives (Decree of the Council of Ministers No. 161 of 04.08.2017, promulgated, State Gazette No. 64 of 08.08.2017) was adopted. The Ordinance regulates the profession of Industrial Property representatives as a regulated profession in accordance with Directive 2006/123/EU on services in the internal market and Directive 2005/36/EU on the recognition of professional qualifications. The Ordinance will enter into force as of 09.09.2017.
The changes introduced are the following. The professional qualification of an Industrial Property representative will be acquired only after a successful examination before the Patent Office. In this respect, the possibility of entry in the register of representatives ex officio is dropped. The requirement for a 2 year working experience prior to the admission exam is also waived. The Ordinance regulates the procedure for recognition of EEA representative’s professional qualification of a representative and the procedure for occasional or temporary provision of services in the Republic of Bulgaria. For the exercise of their profession, the representatives will be permitted to join in partnerships.
We believe that with the presented opportunities for the Bulgarian Industrial Property representatives to operate in EEA countries, including through partnerships with foreign IP representatives, we will expand the capabilities of our team to better serve our clients in the field of Intellectual Property, both in the country and abroad.
The CPC has adopted the obligations offered by "Lukoil Bulgaria" EOOD, "Eco Bulgaria" EAD, "Shell Bulgaria" EAD, "OMV Bulgaria" OOD, "NIS Petrol" Ltd. and "Petrol" AD.
The CPC has adopted a decision, whereby it has recognized the measures proposed by the fuel retailers investigated for cartel aimed at cessation of the conduct consisting in a prohibited agreement and /or concerted practice regarding offered by them prices. In which connection, proceedings have been initiated. These measures consist in the obligation to adopt internal rules, including:
• prohibition of contacts and exchange of any information with companies - competitors and their employees;
• prohibition of any contact between employees of their own and of rival gas stations;
• prohibition of discussion, obtaining or providing commercial information within the work carried in the non-profit organization "Bulgarian Petroleum and Gas Association";
• disciplinary sanction - dismissal for employees who do not comply with the confidentiality of commercial information.
The team of "Penkov, Markov & Partners" International Law Firm has extensive experience particularly in the establishment of such rules on avoidance of concerted practices not only for our clients, as well as for various associations and associations of traders in Bulgaria. We always advise on the implementation of the best international practices and corporate programs and compliance regulations. The preparation and conduct of training programs for the employees of our clients (focused on competition law, data protection, etc.) Is the safest way of avoiding such violations, which is why we have developed a system of training and special methodology for adaptation of the rules for compliance with the Protection of Competition Act of our clients.
Although the definition of the restrictions from above allows some interpretations on the scope of the prohibited contacts, the Commission's decision reaffirms the importance and the advisability of our services.
There is no unlawful cartel of the retail chains for the sales of their own brands
The Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) established the lack of cartel between the retail chains regarding the sales of their own brands. The proceeding was initiated due to implied allegations for coordinated market behavior of the retail chains and possible determination of the delivery and sales prices of goods branded by the chains.
The competition team of Penkov, Markov and Partners – Mr. Vladimir Penkov, Mr. Svetlin Adrianov and Mrs. Yura Mincheva successfully defended the interest of one of the retail chains in the complex with a view to its proceedings specifics and regulation peculiarities investigation of the CPC which went on for about a year.
Our team has built successful defending strategy towards the groundless statements of CPC for illegal actions and meanwhile carried out training for the chain’s personnel for detailed clarification on the activities which could be considered as breach of the competition rules. Broadly discussed were the good commercial practices as well as the specific guidelines and practices of the European Commission at investigations for cartel agreements. At the end of the day the efforts of our team resulted in convincing the CPC that our client is in no breach of the rules for protection of competition and at the same time our client was updated on the regulations and mechanisms which should be applied by his personnel to avoid such infringements.
Another positive court decision enacted for compensation damages caused, by retaining of the unconstitutional 20% state under the Renewable Sources Energy Act
The efforts of “Penkov, Markov and Partners” Attorneys-at-Law for protecting the legal interests of RES producers who have suffered damages from illegal actions of the Bulgarian State, have again been successful. The court representation, aimed at refunding the 20 % fee paid by the RES producers, is without precedent and our law firm was the first to undertake the uneasy task to challenge the widely spread perception in the legal theory and the court practice that the fees thus paid are not subject to refund.
In the beginning of 2017 the Sofia Regional Court again clearly demonstrated that the status quo could be revised, by enacting another decision against the Republic of Bulgaria obliging it to compensate a company, RES producer of electric energy, represented by “Penkov, Markov and Partners”, for the damages caused with the application of the unconstitutional fee for previous period.
In its decision the Sofia Regional Court confirmed our argumentation that the amounts claimed represent compensation for material damages suffered by the RES producers, being loss of profit from income that could be obtained from the price of produced electric energy, which occurred as result of actions of members of the 42nd National Assembly, namely the adoption of the provisions of Article 35a and the following from the Renewable Sources Energy Act.
The court also upheld the argumentation of “Penkov, Markov and Partners” for conflict between the 20 % state fee and Article 107, para 1 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, by virtue of which unless EU law provides otherwise, any aid granted by a Member State in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods, in so far as it affects trade between Member States, shall be incompatible with the internal market. In this sense the Bulgarian court confirmed the fact that the 20% state fee withheld appears clearly discriminatory for the RES producers of energy from wind and sun, in respect of whom the unconstitutional legal provisions have been applied.
Our team is closely following whether the court practice for fair compensation of the damages caused to the sector will be continued and approved also by other court panels who are reviewing cases on the same subject.
The Register of Bank Accounts and Safe Deposit Boxes has been operating since the 1st of January 2017
Due to its creation in September 2016 the Governing Council of the Bulgarian National Bank adopted Ordinance No. 12 on the Register of Bank Accounts and Safe Deposit Boxes. This regulatory instrument defines in detail the procedure for submission and obtaining information from the Register of Bank Accounts and Safe Deposit Boxes maintained by the National Bulgarian Bank.
Practically, the register aims to provide centralized information indicating bank account numbers, bank account holders and the individuals authorized to operate with the accounts of the parties, as well as for the safe deposit boxes lessees and their proxies.
A number of government bodies and banks will be able to receive information from the register as it is specified under Art. 56a, para. 3 of the Credit Institutions Act, natural and legal persons may have access to the register as well on the information contained thereon in the system.
This is undoubtedly a step into the right direction. This database will be especially useful for government institutions and the banks, it will save administrative resources and time by the rapid identification of bank account holders in Bulgaria, which was so far possible but was being conducted through a slow, cumbersome and therefore useless wasteful resource procedure. In the future, in order to achieve even greater benefit from the register a proper formula for access and usage by financial institutions by the identification, especially of the beneficiaries of consumer loans, shall be found.