Certification Trademarks: Licensed to Use
Trademarks, whether a business name or logo, are generally owned and used by the party selling the product or service that the trademark identifies to consumers.
Thus, the cursive "Coca Cola" lettering/logo is owned by the Coca Cola Corporation and identifies to consumers that cans and bottles bearing that logo were produced and are being sold by the Coca Cola Corporation.
A certification trademark is a different sort of trademark registration.
A certification trademark is a mark owned by one party but used by third parties whose product or service meets the certification requirements of the owning party.
In other words, a certification mark offers to the public an assurance that your product or service meets a certain established standard.
For example, the familiar blue Energystar logo is a certification mark demonstrating that the appliance it is attached to has met EPA standards for energy efficiency.
The "standard" that a certification mark demonstrates can be a standard of quality—but it can also demonstrate geographic sourcing, that the work is performed by the member of a union or professional organization,
How Is a Certification Mark Obtained?
As with any Federally registered trademark, to obtain and "create" a certification mark, an application must be filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
- The application must include the specific standards by which a third party may come to use the certification trademark in commerce;
- The owner of the certification mark cannot itself manufacture or sell the goods or services with which the mark is utilized in commerce;
- The mark cannot be used for any purpose other than certification;
- The owner must apply the standards for use to third parties fairly and objectively; discrimination is not allowed.
The Specimen filed with the certification trademark application must show how a party other than the applicant uses the mark in interstate commerce.
Certification Trademarks: The Bottom Line
The bottom line with regard to the registration of a certification trademark is that it is crucial to retain a knowledgeable attorney to assist you with your application. A licensed attorney will provide you a measure of comfort in knowing that details such as these will be properly handled and will not upend your chances of a successful registration.
The Hilla Law Firm is located in the Detroit area but represents clients nationally for trademark matters and offers free video or telephonic consultations.
If you are interested in discussing the filing of an initial trademark application or defending an office action already filed, please contact us to discuss your matter or click here to directly schedule your initial trademark consultation into our calendaring system.