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Collective and Certification Trademarks in the European Union

Introduction

As we all know, we have heard of the common types of trademarks used today such as word or device trademarks. Further, we know the widely discussed 3D trademarks, e.g. Coca Cola’s bottle and we cannot forget sound trademarks that are used in TV advertisements for example.

However, in the European Union most people have not heard of collective or certification trademarks, or are unsure of what to make of such trademarks.

Collective trademarks

Let’s start with a simple definition of a collective trademark: a collective trademark is owned by an association or a legal person of public law and it is used to distinguish goods and services of members from those of non-members. The proprietor of a Community collective trademark can therefore only be an association of manufacturers, producers, suppliers of services, or traders and legal persons governed by public law.

The special advantage of the collective trademark is the possibility of being an indication to designate the geographical origin of the goods and services. This is in contrast to the regular, individual trademark which prevents an indication to a geographical origin, since this would be held as being descriptive.