Certification Marks Distinguished From Other Marks
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. Certification organizations charge for the use of their labels and are thus always aware of exact production numbers. 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, 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) 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.
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