In Bulgaria, intellectual property rights (IPR) can be used not only to protect but also to monetize cultural heritage and tourism assets. This may include the registration of trademarks for cultural-historical values and tourist destinations, copyrights for historical documents and works of art, and patents for any new technologies or methods used in the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage. By protecting and effectively managing these rights, Bulgaria attracts more tourists and generate revenue from the sale of goods, licensing and other commercial opportunities. Moreover, it can prevent the unauthorized use of the country’s cultural heritage assets and thus preserve the cultural and historical heritage of the country for future generations.
Bulgaria, as a member of the EU, is obliged to comply with EU regulations and laws related to intellectual property rights. Therefore, IPR in Bulgaria are generally governed by the same laws and regulations as in the rest of the European Union (EU).
In Bulgaria, there are several examples of how IPR can be used to protect and monetize cultural heritage:
- Trademarks: The ancient city of Plovdiv, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, registered its name as a trademark. This allows the city to protect its brand and prevent unauthorized commercial use of its name.
- Copyright: The National Archaeological Institute and Museum of Bulgaria owns copyright on the images of the ancient Thracian treasures that are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum in Sofia. This allows the institute to control the reproduction and distribution of these images and generate revenue from licensing fees.
- Patents: A Bulgarian company has developed a new method for the restoration of frescoes in churches and monasteries. They have patented this method, which allows them to control the use of the technology and charge fees for its implementation.
Besides the first layer of 11th-12th century frescoes, of which only fragments are preserved, and the famous second layer of murals from 1259, Boyana Church also has a smaller number of later frescoes from the 14th and 16th-17th century, as well as from 1882. A total of 89 scenes with 240 human images are depicted on the walls of the church, and 18 of those – located in the narthex – depict the life of Saint Nicholas. Two highly revered Bulgarian saints are also represented in the narthex – St. John of Rila (the oldest surviving representation of the saint) and St. Paraskeva (Petka).
- Geographical indications: Bulgarian Rose Oil is an example of a product with registered geographical indications. Bulgaria has applications for entry of “Bulgarian yoghurt” as Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) in the European Register of Protected Designations of Origin and Protected Geographical Indications. This means that only products produced in a certain region and following certain rules can be labeled and sold as “Bulgarian yogurt”. This protects the reputation of the product and helps promote the region and its specific qualities with the proven health benefits of a probiotic superfood.
Now, you see with these small examples that by protecting and effectively managing IPR, their holders can promote the cultural heritage better, and at the same time generate revenues.
Many more examples and best practices can be found in the Learn-IP training program, just follow the link to our LEARN-IP training platform: https://moodle.learn-ip.eu .
(This article as well as the pictures were provided by LEARN-IP partner Angela Ivanova / INI-NOVATION BULGARIA)