Certification mark

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Canadian certification label on a bag of rockwool
Counterfeit electrical cords with false UL certification marks

A certification mark on a commercial product often indicates the existence of an accepted product standard and a claim that the manufacturer has tested the product to verify compliance with that standard. The specific specification, test methods, and frequency of testing are published by the standards organization. Certification listing does not necessarily guarantee fitness for use.

Certification marks distinguished from other marks[edit]

Certification marks differ from collective trade marks. The main difference is that collective trade marks may be used by particular members of the organization which owns them, while certification marks are the only evidence of the existence of follow-up agreements between manufacturers and nationally accredited testing and certification organisations.[citation needed] Certification organizations charge for the use of their labels and are thus always aware of exact production numbers.[citation needed] In this way, certification organisations can be seen to earn a commission from sales of products under their follow-up regimes. In return, the use of the certification marks enables the product sales in the first place.

Certification is often mistakenly referred to as an "approval", which is often not true. Organizations such as Underwriters Laboratories, NTA Inc, and CSA International for instance, only "list", they do not approve anything except the use of the mark to show that a product has been certified. Thus, for instance a product certification mark for a fire door or for a spray fireproofing product, does not signify its universal acceptance for use within a building. Approvals are up to the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), such as a municipal building inspector or fire prevention officer. Conversely, FM Global does use the term "Approvals" for its certification listings, which are intended for use of the products within buildings that are insured by FM Global. The German accreditor Deutsches Institut für Bautechnik (DIBt)[1] issues "Approvals" for systems. All of these listed products must conform to listing and approval use and compliance.

For various reasons, usually relating to technical issues, certification marks are difficult to register, especially in relation to services. One practical workaround for trade mark owners is to register the mark as an ordinary trade mark in relation to quality control and similar services.

Certification marks can be owned by independent companies absolutely unrelated in ownership to the companies, offering goods or rendering services under the particular certification mark.

Regulations concerning the use of certification marks[edit]

Trademark laws in countries which provide for the filing of applications to register certificate marks also usually require the submission of regulations[citation needed] which set out a number of matters,[citation needed] including:

  • the people authorized to use the certification mark
  • the characteristics to be certified by the certification mark
  • how the certifying or standards tests these characteristics and supervises the use of the mark
  • dispute resolution procedures

The main purpose of the regulations is to protect consumers against misleading practices.[citation needed]



International treaties and certification marks[edit]

Many jurisdictions have been required to amend their trade mark legislation in order to accommodate the requirement of protection of certification marks under the TRIPs treaty.


Cases involving certification marks include:

See also[edit]


External links[edit]