Certification trade marks

  • A certification trade mark is a special logo that shows consumers that a product or service meets a particular standard.
  • By law, certification trade marks must have rules about how the logo can be used.
  • ACCC approval is required for new certification trade marks.
  • ACCC approval is also required to vary the rules of existing certification trade marks and to assign a certification trade mark to a new owner.

What the ACCC does

  • We assess applications for a new certification trade mark.
  • We receive and assess applications to vary a certification trade mark or to assign a certification trade mark to a new owner.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t receive the initial application for a new certification trade mark. This is done through IP Australia.

About certification trade marks

Trade marks are used to distinguish the goods and services of one business from those of another business.

The certification trade mark is one type of trade mark. It's a special logo that shows consumers that a product or service meets a particular standard.

These standards usually relate to matters like:

  • quality
  • composition
  • place of origin
  • manufacturing method
  • suitability for a particular task.

All certification trade marks must have rules about how the logo can be used.

Certification trade marks must be approved by the ACCC. The Certification trade mark rules checklist describes the requirements that must be met.

Well-known certification trade marks

Wool Mark trade mark Woolmark trade mark
Australian Made trade mark Australian Made trade mark

Registering a certification trade mark

Under the Trade Marks Act 1995, the ACCC must be satisfied that certain criteria are met before a certification trade mark can be registered.

Trade marks can be registered under the Trade Marks Act 1995, which sets out and protects the rights that registration provides. Specifically, registration provides certification trade mark owners with the exclusive right to use and to allow others to use the certification trade mark.

How to register a certification trade mark

Although the ACCC approves certification trade marks, the application to register a certification trade mark is made to IP Australia.

Apply to the Registrar of Trade Marks at IP Australia, attaching a:

The Registrar assesses the application against general trade mark requirements.

If an application complies with these requirements, the Registrar sends it to the ACCC for assessment, along with the certification trade mark rules and checklist.

What happens after we receive an application to register

We check the rules and application

When we receive an application, we check the certification trade mark rules and the application more broadly to make sure it:

  • meets the legal requirements
  • won’t cause harm to the public
  • won’t break the law on competition and consumer rights.

We make an initial assessment before our final assessment

We make an initial assessment of the application once we receive it from the Registrar.

We must have regard to the principles relating to competition, unconscionable conduct and consumer protection concerns, as set out in the Trade Marks Act 1995.

The ACCC considers whether competition concerns may arise from the certification trade mark rules by assessing whether they require or encourage the user of the trade mark to engage in anti-competitive conduct. This may include provisions which:

  • restrict market entry
  • impose restrictions on advertising or marketing
  • establish prices for goods and services
  • impose geographical boundaries on the use of the mark, or
  • impose other restrictions that may adversely effect competition.

The certification trade mark owner and other stakeholders can provide feedback before we make a final assessment.

Read Certification trade marks—the role of the ACCC to learn more about the assessment process and our role.

Varying or assigning a certification trade mark

Certification trade marks may only be assigned to a new owner or have their rules varied with ACCC approval.

How to apply to vary certification trade mark rules

Applications must be made in writing to the ACCC (not IP Australia).

The application must include:

  • a copy of the certification trade mark rules with the proposed variations clearly marked (both deleted and new text), and
  • an additional copy of the certification trade mark rules as amended without the proposed variations being marked, that is a ‘clean’ copy of the new certification trade mark rules.

Send the application by email to ctms@accc.gov.au. Alternatively, submit the application by post or in person at an ACCC office.

The full assessment process is completed for an application to vary. This is the same process as the one used for new certification trade mark applications.

How to apply to assign a certification trade mark to a new owner

Applications must be made in writing to the ACCC (not IP Australia).

The application must:

  • include the name, address and address for service of the organisation to which the certification trade mark is proposed to be assigned
  • state whether the prospective assignee proposes to apply the same certification trade mark rules and, if not, state any variation to the rules and include a copy of the certification trade mark rules that the prospective assignee proposes to apply after assignment.

Send the application by email to ctms@accc.gov.au. Alternatively, submit the application by post or in person at an ACCC office.

We are only required to make a final decision on applications for assignment.

An initial assessment for public consultation is not required for assignment unless changes to the certification trade mark rules are involved. In this case, we follow the full assessment process for certification trade mark rules.

See also

Certification trade marks: the role of the ACCC

Certification Trade Marks public register

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