A set of new provisions has been added by Regulation (EU) 2015/2424 in order to provide for the protection of EU-wide certification marks.
Certification marks allow a certifying body (institution or organisation) to permit others to use a particular mark for the purpose of guaranteeing to the relevant public that their goods or services comply with certain certification requirements. This usually relates to a mode of manufacture or the material or quality of the goods concerned. An example is the ‘CE’ mark, which indicates that a product complies with the safety, health or environmental requirements set by the European Commission.
As with current UK certification marks, an applicant for an EU certification mark will be required to submit regulations governing its use. These regulations must be submitted to the EUIPO within 2 months of filing the application and must detail the persons authorised to use the mark, the characteristics to be certified by the mark, and how the certifying body is to test that those characteristics exist and supervise the use of the mark.
It is stated by the new Regulation that this reform is intended to remedy the current imbalance between national systems and the EU trade mark system. At present, there are a number of territories amongst the EU member states where the national laws do not contain provisions for certification marks. Hence it is simply not possible to obtain protection for certification marks in those territories. Furthermore, the existing Regulation (EU) 207/2009 already makes provision for the existence of EU-wide collective marks, but not certification marks.
This development will therefore be of great interest and advantage to certifying bodies with interests in multiple EU member states, since they will soon be able to obtain an EU-wide certification mark with effect from 23 March 2016.