Certification marks and collective marks; what are they?

In addition to ordinary marks, there are two other kinds of trade marks that can be registered with the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) – certification marks and collective marks.

In addition to ordinary marks, there are two other kinds of trade marks that can be registered with the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) – certification marks and collective marks.

Certification Marks

A certification mark is a specific type of trademark which is defined in Section 50(1) of the Trade Mark Act 1994 as ‘a mark indicating that the goods and services in connection with which it is used are certified by the proprietor of the mark in respect of origin, material, mode of manufacture of goods or performance of services, quality, accuracy or other characteristics.’

In essence, this means that a certification mark is usually not used by the individual who owns the mark instead, it is used by the authorised users.  The owner of the mark will be the individual who certifies the goods and services that others will use in their business however, they cannot certify the goods and services to use themselves. The owner of a certification mark will have what is known as ‘duty of neutrality’ with relation to the interests of the producers of the goods or services it certifies. 

With regards to geographical origin, certification marks differ from ordinary marks because they exclude this requirement. As such, a certification mark cannot be used to certify the origin of goods and services.

When applying for a certification mark there are a few fundamental factors to consider:

–          During the application process, you must state clearly the kind of mark in which you are applying for.

–          The certification mark application should be in respect of the goods and services that are certified by you, the owner of the mark

–          You must also ensure to include the regulations of use of the certification mark that you are applying for. These regulations must be filed within two months of the application.

Collective marks

A collective trademark  is a specific type of  trademark owned by an organization or association and is defined in Section 49(1) of the1994 Trademark Act as: A collective mark is a mark distinguishing the goods or services of members of the association which is the proprietor of the mark from those of other undertakings”

Collective marks are usually used to identify goods or services of producers that have similar interests which can be utilized to build consumer confidence.

The key difference between certification marks and collective marks is that a collective trademark is normally used by certain members of the organization who are in ownership of the mark whereas a certification mark can be used by anybody who complies with the standards and regulations that are defined by the owner of the mark. Only associations of producers, manufacturers, suppliers or legal persons can apply for collective marks.

Unlike certification marks, a collective mark which designates its geographical origin of the goods and/or services can be registered. In the instance a geographical indication of the goods and/or services is used, the regulations of use must give specific authorization to do so. The regulations of use, similarly to a certification mark, must be filed within two months of the application.  

To summarise, both a collective and certificate mark is comparatively different from the arguably more common, ‘ordinary’ trade mark. If you are unsure on how to file your trade mark or have any questions relating to the different types of marks, please contact the Trademarkroom where we would be happy to assist you.

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