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Trade marks and environmental sustainability

22nd April 2020

 

In celebration of World IP Day 2020, 26th April, Ansons are focusing our news post this week on green and sustainable topics in support of the theme “Innovate for a Green Future”

 

To embrace a green future is a modern-day challenge in which we all play a role in attaining. Green businesses, technologies, products and services have increased internationally as consumers are more environmentally conscious. When making purchasing and lifestyle decisions, consumers look-out for green, low impact and sustainable brands which adhere to certain standards. Consequently, brand owners turn to intellectual property instruments to protect their business brand legally and highlight the environmental benefits of using their product or service to the consumer. While it is more common to associate green initiatives and innovation with patents for sustainable inventions or innovative technologies, trade marks too play an important role in sustainability.

 

The main function of a trade mark is to act as a badge of origin. In this capacity, trade marks communicate to consumers information about the origin of the products they are registered for. This information can also translate into a set of standards to which a product or service may comply. However, to ensure that this information is emphasised to the consumer, there are certification marks and collective marks or guarantee marks which are especially regulated by legal systems.

 

Certification marks, such as ‘FAIRTRADE’, are used to guarantee compliance with specific characteristics or defined standard of goods or services. In fact, an application for a certification mark would include the conditions and requirements controlling use of the products or services and also testing undergone to ensure the goods or services comply with the rationale of the certification mark. The certification mark therefore regulates the businesses bearing it and the proprietor does not provide the goods and services itself as a standard trade mark would. As a result, any brand owner can use a certification mark together with its own trademark if the products comply with the standards for the use of the certification mark.

 

Collective marks, such as ‘LOVE IRISH FOOD’ also guarantee certain standards, however this mark is more exclusive since it may only be used by a specific group of enterprises. The proprietor of a collective mark would be an organization or association, allowing any trader to use this mark as a member of that association.

 

The ability to register certification marks and collective marks is available in several countries, including the United Kingdom and Ireland (being regulated by the UK Trade Mark Act 1994, Sections 49 and 50 and the Irish Trade Marks Act 1996, Sections 54 and 55).  

 

When certification and collective marks are used to distinguish green or environmentally friendly products and services, brand owners draw consumers to their products. The use of such products, in turn help the environment as they abide by standards and requirements which have been tested.

 

Should you need assistance with obtaining protection for a collective or certification mark, please send an email to info@ansons.co.uk or mail@maclachlan.ie.  One of our trade mark attorneys would be pleased to discuss your needs with you.