FSC announced a new version of the FSC Trademark Standard (FSC-STD-50-001 V2-0) which will come into force on 1 March 2018. As well as introducing the trademark use management system, the Standard permits more flexible trademark use.
Certificate holders can choose to switch to the new version of the Standard from 1 March 2018 and need to be in compliance by 1 March 2019.
This Standard specifies requirements for use of the FSC trademarks by certificate holders - including the use of trademarks on FSC-certified products, for promotion of FSC-certified products, and for promotion of the organisation’s status as an FSC certificate holder.
The last version of the Standard was published in 2010. In 2015, FSC introduced the “Forests For All Forever” (FFAF) marks. This new version of the Standard incorporates the changes proposed by stakeholders through FSC motions 29 and 36 (addressing simplification of trademark use, and market confusion and deceptive practices, respectively), as well as the conditions for use of FFAF trademarks.
Trademark use management system
One of the most significant changes in the new version of the Standard is the introduction of the trademark use management system. This is an internal system run by the certificate holder which must be approved by the certification body before being used.
Previously, certificate holders were required to submit their intended FSC trademark use to their certification bodies for approval. The new version allows certificate holders to take responsibility for internal approval of trademark use through their trademark use management system.
Even when certificate holders choose to implement a trademark use management system, they can still send questions concerning new cases of trademark use to their certification bodies.
The new version of the Standard clearly sets out the mimimum required elements - as well as optional elements that certificate holders can add to the label. Although trademark use still needs to be in line with relevant national labelling requirements, this added flexibility is likely to be welcomed by users.
It will also be possible to use a one-line arrangement of FSC label elements where there is limited surface for printing, such as on pens.
Under the new requirements, the space reserved on product for the FSC label is now reduced to three-quarters of what was previously required. Accordingly, the following use of FSC labels is now accepted:
- 9 mm in width (portrait format, compared to the previous minimum of 17 mm), and
- 6 mm in height (landscape format, compared to 12 mm minimum in the previous version of the Standard).
Further flexibility built into the new version of the Standard relates to the placement of the FSC logo on products. Previously, the rule required the FSC label to be visible on the product and its packaging or both. The new version has softened this requirement, therefore providing more flexibility for certificate holders in the design of products.
Like the previous version, the Standard prohibits the promotional use of the FSC logo or “Forests For All Forever” marks on business cards. However, a text reference to the organisation’s FSC certification (incorporating the license code) is now allowed.
Despite the above changes, physical materials such as labelled products or printed publications, which have been approved under the old trademark requirements prior 28 February 2018, can continue to be distributed for as long as they remain in stock.
The Standard also provides - in Annex C - some good examples that can be used by certificate holders to describe FSC and FSC-certified products.
To help stakeholders become familiar with the revised Standard, FSC is providing two webinars, in January 2018, to introduce the main changes. Interested stakeholders can select a suitable time and date and register here.