Earlier this month the BBC noted here that Cadbury is to abandon its use of the Fairtrade certification mark on its products in favour of a new in-house fair trade scheme called ‘Cocoa Life’. Whether you are for or against Cadbury’s decision to adopt their own system of self-regulation, it does raise some interesting trade mark considerations.
The definition of a registrable trade mark in the UK is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods/services of one party from those of another. In the EU, there are two further ‘flavours’ of registrable marks, namely the Collective Mark (owned by a group and indicating distinguishing the goods of members of the group from those of other parties) and (in various EU states and in 2017 at EU level) the Certification Mark (not used by the owner and indicates the goods/services on which it is used are certified by the owner).
The Fairtrade mark feels like one of the more prominent “guarantee” marks that consumers are used to seeing on everyday goods (especially food) that “certify” a product as meeting certain standards, and one of the more well known guarantees of ethical trade. As a result, products can sometimes carry several certification marks in conjunction with its core branding. Presumably, Cadbury will wish to seek registration of its Cocoa Life mark for its own exclusive use, rather than as a certification mark for use by others, although they will be using to certify its own sustainability efforts.
Stobbs has experience of working with all ‘flavours’ of marks including certification marks, so if this is an area of interest, please give us a call.