WNA Blog

Thu 23 Aug 2018

Certification Marks are Different from your Standard Trademarks

In The News
A certification mark is a form of trademark with a lengthier and more complex application process. However, the ongoing benefits of a certification mark make the procedure worthwhile, and worth the effort.

What is a Certification Mark?

IP Australia, the governing trademark body in Australia, has defined a certification trade mark as a set of standards to be met, determined by “quality, content, manufacturing method and geographic origin”.

For example, the Australian Made trademark provides assurance of the geographical origin of a product. Similar examples include Harris Tweed, Darjeeling tea, and Scotch whisky.

A certification trade mark may cover both goods and services and allows for the certificate holder to authorise the use of that mark, where certain criteria are met.

Both the certificate holder and subsequent applicants for its use must undergo an examination process, whereby they prove themselves and their goods or service to meet the standards required for such certification.

The certification also determines the procedures required for any dispute over the use of a certification trade mark.

The Woolmark®

One of the best-known certification trademarks worldwide, the Woolmark® is owned by The Woolmark Company and uses a logo to guarantee that the fabric of a product is 100 percent pure new wool.

As an example of the stringent conditions required for the use of the Woolmark® logo, a product must be independently tested at an Authorised Laboratory, and then approved by The Woolmark Company. Where a company fulfils the certification specifications, they are permitted to use the logo for their goods.

CFP® Certification 

Owned by the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA), the CFP is an example of a service-based certification trade mark.

Recognised in over twenty-six countries, the CFP is an indication of the standard of service provided by financial planners. The rules also govern what benchmarks need to be met for the FPA to give permission for the certification marks’ use.

Why Apply for a Certification Trade Mark?

A trademark of this standard requires thorough preparation and can be somewhat time consuming.  Although the process of application is more rigorous, the credibility provided by such protection is significant.

While there is no quality control for a general trademark, a certification mark is required to go through the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and outline the rules of how the mark is to be used.  These rules are laid out in a manual which is submitted to both IP Australia and the ACCC for approval. The manual functions as a self-audit guide, so any challenges to the trademark can be abated by documentation of how use of the trademark is allowed.

There are a set of six specifications required for the application and grant of a certification mark, which lay out the minimum standards needed to obtain the mark.

Obtaining a certification trademark guarantees a certain standard or quality of goods and services and may also provide international recognition. The sense of trust and integrity associated with such a trademark may be significant enough to enhance a company’s image, as well as protecting the standard of its goods and services.

If you think you need a Certification Mark for your brand, please feel free to ring us to discuss your options.

Note: Woolmark logo(s) are registered trademarks and certification marks of The Woolmark Company Pty Ltd. CFP (word and logo) trademarks are registered trademarks and certification marks of the Financial Planning Standards Board Ltd.


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