TMEP 1306.04(d)(ii): Specimen Shows Use as Title or Degree for Certification Mark Certifying that Labor Was Performed by Specific Group or Individual

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1306.04(d)(ii)    Specimen Shows Use as Title or Degree for Certification Mark 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 Nat’l Inst. for Auto. Serv. Excellence, 218 USPQ 744, 747 (TTAB 1983); see also Am. Speech-Language-Hearing Ass’n v. Nat’l Hearing Aid Soc’y, 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 Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists, 85 USPQ2d 1403 (TTAB 2007) (CRNA functions as certification mark used to certify that anesthesia services are being performed by a person who meets certain standards and tests of competency); In re Software Publishers Ass’n, 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 Nat’l Ass’n of Purchasing Mgmt., 228 USPQ 768 (TTAB 1986) (C.P.M. used merely as title or degree, not as certification mark); In re Nat’l Ass’n of Legal Secretaries (Int’l), 221 USPQ 50 (TTAB 1983) (PROFESSIONAL LEGAL SECRETARY not used on the specimen in such a way as to indicate certification significance); In re Nat’l Inst. for Auto. Serv. 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 Inst. of Certified Prof’l Bus. 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 Prof’l 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 Univ. of Miss., 1 USPQ2d 1909 (TTAB 1987) (use of university seal on diplomas did not represent use as a certification mark).

See TMEP §1306.06(a) regarding the difference between a certification mark and a collective mark.