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Certification and Collective Marks

Law and Practice

Jeffrey Belson

Certification and Collective Marks is a thoroughly updated and augmented edition of Certification Marks, first published in 2002. This comprehensive study forms a wide-ranging inquiry, with comparisons of the certification and collective mark systems of the UK, EU and US, whilst also referring to other systems. In addition to the laws and policies impacting ownership and use of these marks, also addressed are their historical development, registration and protection, certifiers’ liability, legal and commercial significance, use in regulatory and technical standardization frameworks, and emergent sui generis forms of certification, namely ecolabels and electronic authentication marks in digital content. This publication is especially timely in light of the advent of the EU certification mark and the controversial EU proposals to extend the Geographical Indications system to include non-agri-food products.
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Jeffrey Belson


Until the late Middle Ages the craft guilds were the dominant means for regulating and certifying the qualities of goods and workmanship. Craftsmen were required to use their personal mark on their products for traceability and regulatory liability purposes. In addition to the craftsman’s mark, the guild mark, reminiscent of the modern collective mark, appeared on goods to indicate that they originated in the guild. As the power of the guilds waned, from the sixteenth century onwards a personal trademark right began to evolve. The erstwhile regulatory mark used by the craftsman became his trademark, a symbol of goodwill to be valued by its owner. With the advent of the industrial revolution and emergence of the entrepreneurial class a climate of economic liberalism developed that was conducive to the ascendancy firstly of a passing off right and later, towards the end of the nineteenth century, a registration right in trademarks. Key words: history; certification mark; collective mark; trademark

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