Vegans and vegetarians should consciously check product references during the purchasing process. Not only that, but consumers are increasingly looking for brands that align with their ethical and moral beliefs. This is perhaps most evident in the food and drink they consume.
Brands are of course aware of this. They have adapted their marketing over the past decade to reflect a more eco-conscious market. Even those that have already benefited from eco-labels are coming under increased scrutiny as consumers increasingly demand more from their products. To alert consumers to the values and practices of a cruelty-free and environmentally responsible business, many choose to enroll in “green” programs and use so-called “green” brands.
WHAT ARE GREEN MARKS?
A green mark alerts the consumer to the ecological values and interests of the company or product.
This is usually achieved by adding descriptors like “eco”, “friendly”, “sustainable”, etc., as well as figurative elements that allude to sustainability (trees, leaves, etc.). These tweaks to a brand can pay dividends when it comes to educating consumers about a company’s environmental efforts, but they can also cause real headaches for their intellectual property down the line.
To ensure brands are genuinely eco-friendly rather than simply using eco credits to enhance the brand, a business can apply for certification marks licensed by industry bodies.
WHAT IS THE VEGAN TRADEMARK?
The Vegan brand is widely regarded as the world’s most recognized brand certifying vegan credentials. It can be applied to product packaging and advertising materials and allows consumers to verify the authenticity of these credentials at a glance and buy with confidence.
The Vegan Society is highly trusted by consumers and businesses. Since 1990, its vegan trademark has helped consumers identify that a product is free from animal-derived ingredients. The Vegan brand has been licensed around the world and in a wide range of industries, not only in the food and beverage sectors, but also for other fast-moving consumer goods industries, from cosmetics clothing and household items.
Recently, the Vegan Society reached the monumental figure of 60,000 registered products with its brand licensing program, with Smurfit Kappa becoming the first packaging company to register the Vegan Society brand.
The Vegan Society Licensing System provides a means of certifying products that meet the Vegan Society’s registration standards.
Although The Vegan Society created the word “vegan” in 1944 and has trademark registrations for the Vegan logo and The Vegan Society (shown below), the registrations do not prevent a company from using the term VEGAN in its advertising media or even as part of its own brand or trademark. Indeed, the word VEGAN is now entirely descriptive of a characteristic or the nature of the products, and of the clientele for which the products are intended.
However, The Vegan Society not only actively monitors and enforces against the misuse of its valuable trademarks, but also against third parties seeking to register the word VEGAN alone, without the addition of distinctive elements, such as trademarks. house and distinctive figurative elements.
Our advice to companies using the term VEGAN as part of their brand is to:
- Ensure that the term VEGAN does not visually appear in a form similar to the trademarks of The Vegan Society;
- Incorporate other distinctive sound and visual elements into the trademark; and,
- If your brand is truly eco-friendly, apply to join licensing programs like the Vegan Society’s to check your “green” credentials.