Sofia, Bulgaria – A country once earning the dubious distinction as one of the world’s leading exporters of pirated entertainment and business content CDs, Bulgaria is now planning to make its IP infrastructure a model for all nations.

More than 100 attorneys, judges, prosecutors, government officials, entrepreneurs, and IP administrators took part in three days of educational seminars and discussions on the importance of intellectual property rights in Bulgarian business development. U.S. experts including Judge Randall R. Rader of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Professor Martin Adelman, co-director of the intellectual property law program at George Washington University Law School, and Andrea Sharrin, trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, teamed up with several Bulgarian experts to increase awareness of intellectual property as a tool for growth. Noted Bulgarian participants included Velizar Sokolov of ARSIS Consulting, Dr. Kristo Iliev of the Bulgarian Industrial Association, and Mariana Lazarova of the Bulgarian Association of Music Producers.

“Bulgaria has made significant progress enacting and enforcing intellectual property laws over the past several years,” noted event coordinator Jeffrey Martin. “Now several leading business leaders here are looking for ways to use IP as a mechanism for commercialization.”

Topics discussed at the conference included: the role of intellectual property in business planning, the potential of commercialization through the Internet, the future of the Bulgarian music industry, and the criminal and civil remedies for those whose intellectual property rights have been violated.

IIPI worked closely with the U.S. Embassy in Sofia preparing for this conference. The U.S. Embassy’s Commercial Service section, particularly Reginald Miller, played a significant role in its planning. Eric Jones of the U.S. Department of State and Ted LaFarge of USAID were also instrumental in realizing this event. Funding was provided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.