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First certification mark registered

Stoffbahnen und Logo "Grüner Knopf"

Mark assumes a guarantee

We used to know the “Grüner Punkt” (Green Dot), but now there is also the “Grüner Knopf” (Green Button). This is made possible by the Trade Mark Law Modernisation Act (Markenrechtsmodernisierungsgesetz), which came into force at the beginning of the year, on 14 January. It created a new trade mark category, the “certification mark”. Thus, it is now possible to apply for a mark for signs which are used by the proprietor of a mark to certify certain characteristics of the goods and services of other suppliers. In contrast to what is referred to as the origin function of individual trade marks, the certification marks thus have a guarantee function. The purpose is to ensure a certain neutrality on the part of the proprietor of the certification mark, since he himself is not allowed to supply the goods and services whose characteristics he certifies. Therefore, a company’s own quality seals, such as those used by some supermarket chains, cannot be protected as certification marks. The precise rules for the mark must be defined by the proprietor of the certification mark in the regulations governing use.

Protection gap closed regarding quality seals

Previously, the options of obtaining trade mark protection for quality seals were very limited, even for objective quality seals. Simply explained, an individual trade mark is the name of a product of a certain manufacturer. However, quality seals are affixed to products of different manufacturers provided the products are of the appropriate quality. Therefore, they are not trade marks in the conventional sense. Even though some individual quality seals were registered as trade marks, it was not legally possible to use them as such and they were therefore not recognised by the courts. The certification mark thus closes a protection gap for the registration of such seals.

Grüner Knopf” – caring for people and the environment

Logo mit Schrift und grünem Knopf

The “Grüner Knopf” is the first certification mark that was registered by the DPMA, under number 30 2019 108 870, in July. The purpose of this certification mark is to ensure, in respect of various textile products, that the textile suppliers meet certain due diligence obligations regarding human rights and environmental requirements, and that the products themselves satisfy certain social and environmental criteria. The proprietor of the certification mark is the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung).

Bilder: iStock.com/brightstars; BMZ, Dpma

Last updated: 29 November 2019 

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