What characterizes a certification mark and why is it different from a standard mark? – Trademark

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One of the most important aspects for a consumer who buys a product or hires a service is to know that it meets a certain standard. One way that can help brands communicate that their products or services are of a high standard is potentially through the use of a certification mark.

In Australia, a certification mark is a guarantee that a product or service meets a set of standards applicable to the mark owner. As such, it is an effective way to establish customer trust and ensure the quality of a product or service. A certification mark is obtained by applying to IP Australia (the body that manages intellectual property rights for patents, trademarks, registered designs and breeders’ rights in Australia) however , unlike a standard mark, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) is also part of the application process. As a result, there are additional rules and guidelines involved in a certification mark, and hence, it can be considered more trustworthy in the eyes of consumers.

The main differences between a standard mark and a certification mark are:

  1. A standard mark must be distinctive and not descriptive, while a certification mark may be descriptive as long as there is no registered mark that is identical or similar to the certification mark;

  2. The holder of a standard mark must use his mark in relation to the goods and/or services for which he has applied for registration. If the owner of the standard mark does not use his mark, he may be subject to non-use proceedings against him, which may lead to the revocation of his mark. Conversely, the owner of a certification mark may not have to prove that he has used his certification mark, but may instead rely on 3rd party use; and

  3. As mentioned earlier, a standard mark is reviewed by IP Australia examiners, while a certification mark will also be reviewed by the ACCC to ensure that the certification rules are fair and that there is a process for review. audit to ensure that the certification rules are respected. at.

Well-known certification mark in Australia

The “Australian Made” logo is one of the most recognized and trusted certification marks for manufacturers and producers of products made in Australia. The logo was created by the Australian government in 1986 to promote Australian-made products and export markets. Due to its certification status, the logo communicates to consumers in Australia and overseas that goods bearing this logo have met special requirements to specifically describe a product that can be described as “Made in Australia” or “Made in Australia” if it underwent its last substantial transformation in Australia.

Here are some other examples of trusted certification marks:

  • Yarn brand: Australian Wool Research and Promotion Organization, to promote the quality of Australian wool.

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  • CFP, Certified Financial Planner: Property of the Financial Planning Association of Australia, a gold standard in financial planning

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  • Energy Star rating: Energy Star brand certification was established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to promote the manufacture and marketing of energy-efficient equipment and reduce combustion-related pollution.

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  • WIRELESS : The WI FI brand was created to promote high quality computer hardware and LAN products that meet the specified standards of the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance.

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Certification mark standards must be met

As stated earlier, a standard mark should be used consistently across marketing and sales activities to maintain active owner protection. Common advice about a trademark is that you must use it or risk losing it.

A certification mark works the other way around. The owner of a certification mark authorizes others to use it, provided they comply with the stated rules and standards.

For this reason, a certification mark must be earned and is not given to anyone who requests it, as this could result in the loss of the mark’s reputation.

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This logo was awarded to food products that met the Foundation’s criteria for healthy food choices, with an emphasis on being low in trans fat and salt. At the time of filing, this mark was owned by the National Heart Foundation of Australia (the Foundation). At the time, the Foundation aimed to promote the development and sale of foods compatible with a healthier diet and, therefore, to improve public health.

Introduced in 1989, this logo has become known throughout Australia as a means of determining the nutritional value of foods. The campaign lasted 26 years until controversy erupted between 2007 and 2011, when the fast food chain McDonald’s received permission to use the mark. As a result, public perception of this certification mark as promoting healthy food seemed to fade, as McDonald’s was felt to be using this mark to promote the idea that fast food was aligned with healthier eating. healthy, and the argument was made that this was not the case for consumers. Despite this, however, the fast food outlets that achieved certification mark status were found to meet the standards set by the certification mark, but McDonalds also paid the organization $300,000 for the privilege. The rationale for this, at the time, was that McDonalds had introduced healthier oils into its Fillet-o-Fish and McChicken burgers to enable it to comply with certification mark requirements.



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However, despite the above, it has been suggested that the Heart Foundation certification mark lost credibility as a result of this conduct and was eventually withdrawn in 2015 and replaced by the Managed Health Star Rating System by the government.

The process of applying for a certification mark is very detailed and therefore it is advisable to seek the assistance of a licensed attorney or legal practitioner.

The Pointon Partners team is experienced in all matters of intellectual property, including certification marks.

If you need IP advice or want to know if a certification mark is right for you or your business, please do not hesitate to contact Binh Rey, David Mazzeo or the IP team at (03) 9614 7707.

Resources:

Handbook: Certification marks – The role of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

http://docreader.readspeaker.com/docreader/?jsmode=1&cid=btass⟨=en_au&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.accc.gov.au%2Fsystem%2Ffiles%2FCertification%2520Trade%2520Marks_0.pdf&v=Google% 20inc

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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