Certification Marks

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What is a Certification Mark?

A certification mark is used in connection with goods or services to indicate those products or services originated in a particular region, or that they are of a particular nature, quality, characteristic, or that they were produced by a member of a particular organization, usually a labor union.

Why Would I use a Certification Mark?

It certifies a characteristic of the goods or services that is significant to consumers and about which it is important to avoid confusion.

How is a Certification Mark Different from a Trademark?

They share a distinctive feature with collective marks in that the owner of the mark may not be the producer or provider of the services or products with which the mark is used. With trademarks and service marks, any use of the mark by one other than the owner is severely restricted. Additionally, engaging in actual production or marketing of the goods or services is expressly grounds for cancellation of a certification mark.

May I Deny the use of my Certification Mark by Anyone Else?

The owner of a certification mark may not deny use of the mark to anyone who maintains the characteristics that the mark certifies. Any discrimination is grounds for cancellation.

Does Ownership of a Certification Mark Provide me with Exclusive Rights?

Ownership of a certification mark does not provide what ordinarily are thought of as exclusive rights. The rights must be available to all. However, certification marks are subject to all other requirements of trademark law, including the requirement of distinctiveness.

 

Can I Own Both a Certification Mark and a Trademark?

Yes. However, they cannot be identical. To the extent they are similar, they must be distinguishable so that consumers are not deceived into believing that the products sold under trademark law are somehow of the quality that the certification indicates. For example, the mark "Good Housekeeping" serves to indicate the origin of a particular magazine. But the mark "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" indicates that particular products or services meet the standards set by the owners of that mark.

Should I Consult a Lawyer about my Trademark Issue?

The deadlines and regulations for trademark registration are detailed and strict. A lawyer can help you meet all the deadlines and fulfill all the requirements. A lawyer can also participate in on-going research to make certain no one else is using or diluting your trademark without your permission. Additionally, if you have an issue of trademark dilution or infringement, a lawyer can guide you through the difficult and strict procedural requirements for litigation and bring out the core of your case.

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Last Modified: 01-11-2012 04:33 PM PST

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