T.M.E.P. § 1306.03
Certification Marks Certifying that Labor Was Performed by Specific Group or Individual
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1306.03 Certification Marks Certifying that Labor Was Performed by Specific Group or Individual
A certification mark may be used to certify that the work or labor on the goods or services was performed by a member of a union or other organization, or by a person who meets certain standards and tests of competency set by the certifier. 15 U.S.C. 1127. The certifier does not certify the quality of the work being performed, but only that the work was performed by a member of the union or group, or by someone who meets certain standards. In re National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, 218 USPQ 744, 747 (TTAB 1983). See also American Speech-Language-Hearing Association v. National Hearing Aid Society, 224 USPQ 798 (TTAB 1984). Used in this manner, the mark certifies a characteristic of the goods or services. Whether or not specific matter functions as a certification mark depends on whether the matter is used in connection with the goods or services in such a manner that the purchasing public will recognize it, either consciously or otherwise, as a certification mark.
Occasionally it is not clear whether a term is being used to certify that work or labor relating to the goods or services was performed by someone meeting certain standards or by members of a union or other organization to indicate membership or whether the term is merely being used as a title or a degree of the performer to indicate professional qualifications. Matter that might appear to be simply a title or a degree may function as a certification mark if used in the proper manner. See In re Software Publishers Association, 69 USPQ2d 2009 (TTAB 2003) (CERTIFIED SOFTWARE MANAGER used on certificate merely indicates that holder of the certificate has been awarded a title or degree, and is not likely to be perceived as certification mark); In re National Association of Purchasing Management, 228 USPQ 768 (TTAB 1986) (C.P.M. used merely as title or degree, not as certification mark); In re National Association of Legal Secretaries (International), 221 USPQ 50 (TTAB 1983) (PROFESSIONAL LEGAL SECRETARY not used on the specimens in such a way as to indicate certification significance); In re National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, supra (design mark not used simply as a degree or title, but to certify that the performer of the services had met certain standards); In re Institute of Certified Professional Business Consultants, 216 USPQ 338 (TTAB 1982) (CPBC not used as a certification mark for business consulting services, but only as a title or degree); In re Professional Photographers of Ohio, Inc., 149 USPQ 857 (TTAB 1966) (CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER used only as the title of a person, not as a certification mark). Cf. In re University of Mississippi, 1 USPQ2d 1909 (TTAB 1987) (use of university seal on diplomas did not represent use as a certification mark).
See TMEP §1306.09(a) regarding the difference between a certification mark and a collective mark.