Certification trade marks
Under the Trade Marks Act 1995, the ACCC has responsibilities in relation to the approval of Certification Trade Marks.
A certification trade mark (CTM) indicates to consumers that a product or service meets a particular standard. For example, a CTM might indicate that a product:
- is of a particular quality
- has been manufactured in a particular location or by using a particular process
- is made from particular materials or ingredients
- is suited to a particular task.
ACCC approval is required before CTMs can be registered under the Trade Marks Act 1995.
The ACCC’s role involves assessing and approving rules for the use of CTMs, including:
- assessing the requirements that goods/services/persons must meet in order to be eligible to have a CTM applied to them, and assessing the proposed process by which compliance with certification requirements will be judged
- examining the rules to ensure they are not in themselves anti-competitive or misleading or deceptive.
Businesses wishing to register a CTM must first apply to the Registrar of Trade Marks at IP Australia.
Along with their CTM application they must provide a set of rules on how to use the CTM. These rules must be filed with the Registrar with the application or as soon as possible thereafter.
The Registrar assesses CTM applications against general trade mark requirements. If an application complies with these requirements, the registrar sends it, along with the CTM rules, to the ACCC for consideration.
When the CTM rules are received from the Registrar of Trade Marks:
- the ACCC issues an initial assessment to CTM owners giving its preliminary view on whether or not the test in the Trade Marks Act is satisfied
- this initial assessment is advertised by the Registrar in the Official Journal of Trade Marks
- the CTM owner or any other person who objects to the initial assessment have one month to lodge a written submission with the ACCC and/or request the ACCC to hold a conference to make an oral submission
- after holding a conference (if one is called) and considering any written submissions, the ACCC issues a final assessment to the CTM owner and notifies the Registrar and any interested parties of its decision
- a copy of the CTM certificate and CTM rules certified by the ACCC is returned to the Registrar.
Further information about the registrar’s role in assessing CTM applications is available at www.ipaustralia.gov.au.