Certification trade marks
A certification trade mark (CTM) shows that a trader's goods or services are certified as meeting particular standards.
Standards commonly certified are:
- method of manufacture
- geographic origin
A CTM will usually be used on the goods or services of different traders, not just on those of one particular trader.
What does a certification trade mark look like?
Certification trade marks take various forms just as ordinary trade marks do.
For example, the Woolmark doesn't tell you who made or marketed the clothing. Instead, they certify some aspect of the fabric used in the clothing.
This mark certifies that the fabric is pure new wool.
Who certifies the standard of the goods or services?
The standard is certified by the owner of the CTM, or an approved certifier. They follow a set of rules that set the standard for certification. They must have the expertise to test whether this standard is met.
Who uses the certification trade mark?
The owner of the CTM may use it themselves, but usually they will allow others to use it, as approved users. The use must be in accordance with the CTM rules.
Applying for a CTM
You can apply for a CTM in a similar way to an ordinary trade mark. The exception is that a copy of the rules applying to the use of the CTM must also be supplied. This should be done when the application is made or as soon as is possible after it is made.
Rules for a certification trade mark
The rules for the use of a CTM must specify as a minimum:
- the standards that goods or services must meet
- how it will be decided if the standards have been met
- the requirements an approved certifier must meet
- the requirements the owner of the CTM, or an approved user, must meet
- any other requirements for the use of the CTM
- the procedure for resolving a dispute about whether goods or services meet the certification standards, or about any other issue regarding the CTM.
The rules for the use of a CTM are available to the public.
For further information on the requirements that certification trade mark rules must meet, see the ‘Certification trade mark rules checklist’ on the ACCC website.
Certification Rule Abstracts
IP Australia provides a short abstract of certification trade mark rules. These abstracts are a general overview of the rules provided by the trade mark owner. Interested parties should view the rules in full. You can do this by clicking the link to a particular trade mark and downloading the rules document in its entirety.
An application for a CTM is examined in a similar way to an application for an ordinary trade mark. However, the application and the rules must also be approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Role of the ACCC
The ACCC considers various aspects of the CTM, including how effective the rules are and the effect the certification scheme is likely to have. The ACCC may ask for changes to the rules before they will approve them.
The role of the ACCC is described in more detail in the brochure Certification Trade Marks - the role of the ACCC.
Last Updated: 19/11/2014