This article on ‘Certification Marks in India under the TM Act, 1999’ was written by Farhat Sultana, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Certification Marks are an important type of trademark that is recognized under the Indian Trade Marks Act, of 1999. They are used to indicate that certain goods or services have met specific standards or qualities as set by the certifying authority. This article will discuss the key aspects of Certification Marks under the TM Act, 1999. Certification Marks guarantee consumers that the products or services they purchase have been certified by an independent third-party agency. This gives consumers confidence in the quality and authenticity of the products they buy.
Certification Marks also provide a competitive advantage to businesses that have obtained certification, as it sets them apart from their competitors and enhances their reputation in the market. The article attempts to analyse the concept of a certification mark along with the procedure to register the certification marks in India.
II. Definition and Characteristics of Certification Marks
Definition of Certification Marks:
Certification marks are a type of trademark that is used to indicate that goods or services meet certain standards or have certain characteristics. Under the Indian Trademarks Act, 1999, a certification mark is defined as “a mark capable of distinguishing the goods or services in connection with which it is used in the course of trade which are certified by the proprietor of the mark in respect of origin, material, mode of manufacture of goods or performance of services, quality, accuracy or other characteristics, from goods and services not so certified and registrable as such under Chapter IX in respect of those goods or services in the name, as proprietor of a certification trade mark, of that person.”
Characteristics of Certification Marks:
Certification marks have certain characteristics that differentiate them from other types of marks. Firstly, they are used to indicate that goods or services meet certain standards or have certain characteristics, and they are not used to identify the source of the goods or services. Secondly, certification marks are registered by an organization or association, rather than an individual, and can only be used by members of that organization or association who meet certain criteria or standards. Thirdly, certification marks are subject to certain requirements and restrictions, such as the need to use the mark in a certain way or to undergo periodic re-certification to maintain the mark’s validity.
Differences between Certification Marks and other types of marks:
Certification marks differ from other types of marks, such as trademarks, service marks, and collective marks, in several ways.
- Firstly, certification marks are used to indicate that goods or services meet certain standards or have certain characteristics, while other types of marks are used to identify the source of the goods or services.
- Secondly, certification marks are registered by an organization or association, rather than an individual, while other types of marks are registered by individual owners.
- Thirdly, certification marks can only be used by members of the organization or association that owns the mark, while other types of marks can be used by any individual or entity that owns the mark.
III. Advantages of using Certification Marks
Certification marks are an effective way for organizations to showcase the quality, safety, and reliability of their products or services. Some of the key advantages of using certification marks are:
Benefits for Consumers:
Certification marks provide consumers with assurance that the product or service they are buying meets certain standards or criteria. This ensures that the product is safe and of good quality, which helps to build trust between the consumer and the manufacturer. Consumers can easily identify the certified products and services, making it easier for them to make informed decisions when making a purchase.
Benefits for Producers:
Certification marks provide producers with a competitive advantage by differentiating their products or services from those of their competitors. Certified products or services are often considered to be of higher quality and safer than uncertified products, which can help to increase sales and build brand loyalty.
Examples of successful Certification Marks in India:
There are several successful certification marks in India, including the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification mark, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) mark, and the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) mark. The BIS certification mark is a mandatory mark for certain products, including electronic goods and toys, and indicates that the product meets the relevant Indian standards.
The FSSAI mark indicates that a food product has been tested and meets the safety and quality standards set by the FSSAI. The IGBC mark is a voluntary certification mark for buildings that meet certain sustainability criteria. These certification marks have helped to improve the safety, quality, and sustainability of products and services in India and have built trust between consumers and producers.
IV. Registration of Certification Marks in India
To register a certification mark, the applicant must show that the mark is being used or proposed to be used by members of the certifying organization, that the mark is distinctive, and that the certifying organization exercises control over the use of the mark.
The application process for Certification Marks in India:
The application for registration of a certification mark must be filed with the appropriate government agency and must include a description of the standards or qualifications that the mark represents. The certifying organization must also provide evidence of its control over the use of the mark.
Examination and publication of Certification Marks:
After the application is filed, the government agency will examine the mark to ensure that it meets the legal requirements for registration. If the mark is approved, it will be published for opposition by third parties who may object to the registration of the mark.
Oppositions, objections and Cancellations of Certification Marks in India:
Any interested party can oppose the registration of a certification mark during the opposition period. Grounds for opposition include a likelihood of confusion with existing marks or the lack of distinctiveness of the mark. In addition, a certification mark can be cancelled if the certifying organization no longer exercises control over the use of the mark, or if the mark has become generic.
V. Use and Misuse of Certification Marks
These marks are typically registered with government agencies and are subject to strict guidelines to ensure their proper use. Proper use of certification marks can help businesses build credibility and trust with their customers, while misuse can lead to legal consequences and damage to a brand’s reputation.
Guidelines for proper use of Certification Marks:
When using certification marks, it’s important to follow the guidelines set by the registering agency. This includes using the mark only in relation to the specific products or services that have been certified and avoiding any implication that the mark itself is a guarantee of quality or safety. It’s also important to use the mark in a consistent manner and to avoid any modifications or alterations.
Cases of misuse of Certification Marks:
Misuse of certification marks can occur in a number of ways, including using the mark in relation to products or services that have not been certified, using the mark in a misleading manner, or making false claims about the certification. For example, a company that uses a certification mark to imply that its products are eco-friendly, when in fact they are not, would be guilty of misuse.
Legal consequences of misuse of Certification Marks:
The consequences of misusing certification marks can be severe. In addition to the damage to the brand’s reputation, businesses can face legal action from the registering agency or from competitors who have been harmed by the misuse. Penalties can include fines, injunctions, and even revocation of the mark. Businesses should take care to ensure that they are using certification marks properly and in accordance with the guidelines set by the registering agency.
VII. Case Laws related to Certification Marks in India
- Registrar of Trade Marks v. Ashok Chandra Rakhit Ltd.: In this case, the Supreme Court held that a certification mark must be capable of distinguishing the goods or services of the applicant from those of other traders and that it cannot be registered if it is similar to an existing mark or likely to cause confusion.
- Registrar of Trade Marks v. Shree Chanakya Education Society: The Bombay High Court held that a certification mark is a unique form of trademark and that the certification body must ensure that the goods or services for which the certification is granted meet the prescribed standards.
- Perfetti Van Melle Spa v. KRBL Ltd.: In this case, the Delhi High Court held that the certification mark owner has the right to sue for infringement of the mark and that the burden of proof lies with the defendant to show that the use of the mark is not likely to cause confusion.
In conclusion, certification marks are an important aspect of the Indian Trademark Act, of 1999, as they assure consumers the quality and standards of the products or services bearing such marks. It is essential for businesses to understand the requirements and procedures for obtaining and maintaining certification marks to protect their brand reputation and ensure consumer trust.
- Key Notes on Certification Marks in India Issued For Different Products in India, Unacademy, available at: https://unacademy.com/content/bank-exam/study-material/general-awareness/key-notes-on-certification-marks-issued-for-different-products-in-india/
- Certification marks in India: what you need to know, Nikhil Kumar, Meghna Arora and Sumeet Singh, Lexology, 12 September 2022, available at: https://www.lexology.com/commentary/intellectual-property/india/gw-legal/certification-marks-in-india-what-you-need-to-know
- Urfee Roomi, Certification Trademarks In India, Mondaq, 24 August 2021, available at: https://www.mondaq.com/india/trademark/1104522/certification-trademarks-in-india