Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Joshua D. Sarnoff
Chapter 20: Green marks
Consumers have recently observed a proliferation of the use of the word ‘green’ and the use of the color green in the labeling and marketing of goods and services. It would appear that many companies now want to market their products and services as ‘green’. Because companies are endeavoring to portray themselves and their products as environmentally responsible, there has been a surge in the number of marks used that suggest heightened environmental standards. Green trademarks are now ubiquitous. In particular, the word ‘green’ and the prefixes ‘eco-’ and ‘enviro-’ appear in numerous trademarks, such as ‘Green Collar Operations’, ‘Ecomall’, and ‘Envirocounsel’. In addition, green certification marks are also abundant. Examples of green certification marks include ‘Green Seal’, ‘Enviromark’, and ‘Ecologo’. And ‘.green’ and ‘.eco’ are now new generic top level domains (gTLDs) on the internet. The use of green marks has dramatically increased since 2005. Simultaneously, there has been a large increase in the number of applications for registration of ‘green marks’ for both trademarks and certification marks in the United States (US). For example, a 14 July 2014 search of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database revealed 10,297 live marks containing the word ‘green’ (22,564 live and dead marks), 4,341 live marks containing the prefix ‘eco-’ (8,603 live and dead marks), 600 live marks containing the prefix ‘enviro-’ (1,699 live and dead), and 5,114 live marks containing the word ‘clean’ (12,730 live and dead). The words ‘carbon’ and ‘climate’ are also increasingly found in certification marks. For example, ‘Carbon Neutral’ and ‘Carbonfree’ are recognized, registered certification marks.
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