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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


Authoritative undertakings provide third-party attestations of safety, quality or other product attributes to the public and regulators in their certifications, approvals, listings and ‘guarantees’. Therefore, the liability exposure of such undertakings is a matter of key importance for them and other stakeholders in the certification process. This chapter first outlines liability rules in general. Then the principles behind product liability policy and laws potentially applicable to product certifiers are considered under breach of statutory duty (strict liability), tort (negligence) and breach of contract (warranty). Statutory provisions in the UK and other jurisdictions which impose liability for defective products are addressed in the context of the laws governing the sale and supply of goods, and consumer and employee protection. The problems in delineating the boundary of certifiers’ liability are illustrated by references to the case law concerning certification, not only of chattels but shipping as well. Key words: certifier liability; negligence; statutory duty; contract

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