Collective and certification marks as of 1 March 2019

As of 1 March 2019, following entry into force of the amended BCIP, in addition to individual and collective marks, you can apply for certification marks. Before 1 March, certification marks were not available in the Benelux.

The differences between the different marks

The collective mark being introduced on 1 March is different to the old-style collective mark. The collective mark hitherto in operation was similar in ways to both the certification mark and the collective mark that will come into effect on 1 March 2019. The "old" 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. The owner of such a collective mark did not use the mark him or herself, but rather ensured that the use of the mark by others met the conditions stipulated in the regulations of use.

After 1 March, it is likely that most "old" collective marks will qualify as certification marks. Certification marks (Art 2.35bis BCIP) show that the owner of the mark has guaranteed that the products or services bearing the mark possess 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.

The "new" collective mark (Art 2.34bis BCIP) is a mark that is used by members of an association. The association is the owner of the collective mark. The mark shows that the products or services bearing it are provided by a member of the association. Typically, it is the type of trademark used by associations of producers, 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.

The differences at a glance

Certification mark

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

Making a choice

Collective marks filed under the old rules, i.e. filed before 1 March 2019, must be converted. The owners of these marks must specify whether their mark is a collective or certification mark under the new legislation. This must be done, at the latest, upon renewal of the mark, but may, of course, be done earlier.

All owners of existing collective marks (or their authorised representatives) will receive a letter inviting them to make their choice known in writing as soon as possible.

BOIP cannot determine whether a mark is a collective or certification mark. This determination is up to the owner him or herself. Similarly, BOIP will not check the choice made, nor whether the existing regulations of use are in line with the choice made and compliant with the new statutory provisions.

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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