4 December 2017Trademarks

INTA Berlin 2017: No rush expected for EU certification regime

David Stone, partner at Allen & Overy, is not convinced that the new EU certification regime will see a rush of people applying for registrations.

Speaking in a personal capacity at INTA’s Brand Authenticity conference in Berlin on Friday, December 1, Stone said that harmonisation was a good thing as it improved on the “patchwork” regime that previously existed.

On October 1, a second batch of reforms to the EU trademark system came into force.

One of these is the certification mark, which allows a certifying institution or organisation to permit parties adhering to the certification system to use the mark as a sign for goods and services, as long as they comply with the certification requirements.

While some EU countries previously allowed for certification marks, a number of them did not, including Germany.

December 1 marked exactly two months since the reform came into force and, according to Stone, no certification marks have been approved at the EU-wide level yet.

Stone noted two important limitations of the marks.

First, that the owner of the certification mark (the certifying organisation) is not itself able to use it, so a typical business would be unlikely to apply for such a mark.

Second, the mark can’t be used to denote a geographical origin.

He went on to say that what can sometimes discourage those thinking of applying for a certification mark is that if the criteria have been set, and someone meets them, they can’t be stopped from using the mark.

Giulia Di Tommaso, director at consultancy firm Elipe, added that currently there are more than 435 certification marks worldwide.

“Certifications are doing a lot to make the supply chain fairer and more transparent, but going forward we will need even more inclusive debates including all the stakeholders and certainly this community of trademark experts,” she said.

Marion Heathcote, partner at Davies Collison Cave, moderated the session. All presenters were speaking in a personal capacity at the conference, which ended on Friday.

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29 September 2017   On Sunday, October 1, the second batch of reforms to the EU trademark system will come into force.