Choosing a collective or a certification mark

As of 1 March 2019, the laws on trademarks in the Benelux will change. One of the changes concerns the collective mark: as of 1 March it will be replaced by two variants. If you own a collective mark, you have to choose one of the two variants as of 1 March. If all has gone well, you will have received a letter from us on this topic. You will find more information about the choice to be made below.

The "old" collective mark

An old-style "collective mark” was a mark that distinguished one or more characteristics shared by products and/or services, for example quality criteria, origin or production methods. Those characteristics were laid down in the regulations for use of the mark, that had to be filed with the application for the mark. As the owner of a collective mark, you did not use the mark yourself, but rather you ensured that the use of the mark by others met the conditions stipulated in the regulations of use.

The "new" collective mark

The new-style collective marks in effect after 1 March are different to the "old" collective marks. The "new" collective marks are for use by members of an association. The association is the owner of the collective mark. The mark is used to show that the products or services bearing it are provided by a member of the association. Typically, it is the type of trademark that associations of producers use, for example a group of farmers from a particular region. Unlike a certification mark, a collective mark can serve as an indicator of geographical origin.

Certification marks

From 1 March 2019 onwards, not only can you apply for an individual or collective mark, but also for a certification mark. Certification marks did not exist in the Benelux before 1 March.

Certification marks show that the owner of the mark has guaranteed that the products or services bearing the mark have certain characteristics, for example that they have been produced in a certain way or comply with specific quality criteria. In principle, any conceivable attribute can be certified in this way, with the exception of the geographical origin of products or services. Furthermore, any entity can own a certification mark, provided that it does not supply the relevant products or services itself. As with the "old" collective mark, the regulations of use governing the mark must be filed with the certification mark application.

Making a choice

Collective marks filed before 1 March 2019 must be converted. It is up to you to state whether your old mark is a certification mark or a collective mark under the new legislation. We cannot make that determination for you, nor can we check your choice. We also cannot check whether the existing regulations of use for your mark are in line with your choice and with the new statutory provisions. If you feel that you need advice to make your choice, please contact an IP professional.

The differences at a glance

Certification mark

New-style collective mark

Serves to inform that the products or services meet certain requirements

Serves to inform that the products or services are provided by a business that is a member of a given organisation

Owner is not allowed to market the products and services himself

Owner must be an association or a legal entity under public law

Cannot certify geographical origin

Can indicate a geographical origin

How do I notify the authorities of my choice?

You can inform us of your choice in writing, preferably using the contact form on our website. You must do so at the latest when you renew your mark. If you still have not made your choice by then, you will unfortunately not be able to renew your mark.

Questions?

If you have further questions, please call or e-mail our Information Centre. We would be delighted to help you!

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