TMEP 1306.04: Examination of Certification Mark Applications

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1306.04    Examination of Certification Mark Applications

Except where otherwise specified herein, the same procedures are used to determine the registrability of certification marks that are used for other types of marks. Thus, the standards generally applicable to trademarks and service marks are used in considering issues such as descriptiveness, disclaimers, and likelihood of confusion. (But see TMEP §§1306.05–1306.05(j) regarding certification marks indicating regional origin only.)

Regarding the application of §2(e) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §1052(e), to certification marks, see Cmty. of Roquefort v. Santo, 443 F.2d 1196, 170 USPQ 205 (C.C.P.A. 1971); In re Nat’l Ass’n of Legal Secretaries (Int’l), 221 USPQ 50 (TTAB 1983).

Regarding the application of §2(d), 15 U.S.C. §1052(d), the test for determining likelihood of confusion is the same for certification marks – the du Pont analysis. In re Accelerate s.a.l., 101 USPQ2d 2047, 2049 (TTAB 2012) (quoting Motion Picture Ass’n of Am., Inc. v. Respect Sportswear, Inc., 83 USPQ2d 1555, 1559-60 (TTAB 2007) ); see In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 476 F.2d 1357, 1361, 177 USPQ 563, 567 (C.C.P.A. 1973); see also Procter & Gamble Co. v. Cohen, 375 F.2d 494, 153 USPQ 188 (C.C.P.A. 1967); Tea Bd. of India v. Republic of Tea, Inc., 80 USPQ2d 1881 (TTAB 2006); Stabilisierrungsfonds fur Wein v. Peter Meyer Winery GmbH, 9 USPQ2d 1073 (TTAB 1988); E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co. v. Yoshida Int’l, Inc., 393 F. Supp. 502, 185 USPQ 597 (E.D.N.Y. 1975).

However, because a certification mark owner does not use the mark itself, the likelihood-of-confusion analysis is based on a comparison of the mark as applied to the goods and/or services of the certification mark users, including the channels of trade and classes of purchasers. In re Accelerate s.a.l., 101 USPQ2d at 2049 (quoting Motion Picture Ass’n of Am. Inc. v. Respect Sportswear, Inc., 83 USPQ2d at 1559-60); see also Jos. S. Cohen & Sons Co. v. Hearst Magazines, Inc., 220 F.2d 763, 765, 105 USPQ 269, 271 (C.C.P.A. 1955).

A refusal to register because the specimen fails to show the applied-for mark functioning as a certification mark is predicated on §§1, 2, 4, and 45 of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §§1051, 1052, 1054, 1127. For example, registration should be refused on this basis where the specimen shows use only as an educational or other degree or title awarded to individuals, and not use as a certification mark. Titles and degrees indicate qualifications or attainments of a person; they do not pertain to or certify services that have been performed by the person. See TMEP §1306.04(d)(ii).

See TMEP §1207.04 for information regarding seeking a concurrent use registration.

See TMEP §§1306.05─1306.05(j) regarding the examination of geographic certification mark applications.