Companies that attest to the quality of products or services under a “certification mark” –a type of trademark used to show consumers that particular goods or services (or their providers) have met certain standards –are now able to register such marks in the European Union.
Although certification mark registrations have been available via many national trademark offices throughout Europe (and, of course, through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) for many years, they are a recent development at the EU level. As of October 1, 2017, companies can now apply for an EU certification mark.
Similar to U.S. law, the applicant for an EU certification mark must use the mark in question as a symbol of supervised quality for the certification of others –it cannot use the certification mark for its own products or services, and therefore cannot own or benefit from the goodwill in the mark. Another bar is that an EU certification mark cannot designate the geographical origin of the goods or services being certified, which differs from some national certification marks (such as, for instance, U.S. or U.K. certification marks).
This development means that companies offering quality control for the products or services of others now have another mechanism to protect their valuable certification marks in Europe.
This article appeared in the January 2018 issue of MarkIt to Market. To view our past issues, as well as other firm newsletters, please click here.