Combatting trademark violations through legal enforcement
Since its inception, FSC’s worldwide intellectual property (IP) registrations have comprehensively grown to provide certification mark, trademark, brand and copyright protection (collectively called ’FSC trademarks’).
- In 2018, FSC actioned 58 trademark violations of unauthorised trademark use.
- 34 of these were new trademark violation reports gathered from FSC’s network partners or FSC website users.
- The other 24 cases were existing ongoing matters or had been identified through FSC’s in-house and proprietary monitoring systems
- Most of the cases actioned by FSC were resolved by FSC’s legal department, who undertook in-country actions against alleged infringements.
Companies or individuals who attempted to use FSC’s trademarks without authorization were faced with civil and criminal legal sanctions.
FSC actioned unlawful trademark use through a team of inhouse legal counsels and trademark specialists. Externally, FSC worked with a network of top tier specialist global law firms and enforcement agencies to resolve reports of trademark violations worldwide.
Online markets and social media platforms posed an increasing threat to protecting FSC’s trademarks, with FSC responding to these challenges by modernising its IP policies, IP guidelines, and IP management systems organizationally and by using online enforcement tools, as well as increasing enforcement capabilities in specific regions and supply chains to address these concerns.
New steps were introduced to increase cross border enforcement of FSC trademarks through registration of our trademarks at foreign customs offices. In addition, we began preparing customs enforcement manuals for the seizure of suspected infringing goods.
FSC continued to capitalize on its organizational strength with the FSC network partners playing a central role in reporting trademark violations and supporting trademark enforcement actions globally.
Strengthening the FSC supply chain
Safeguarding the integrity of the FSC brand is at the heart of FSC and we therefore have a series of initiatives and programmes with the sole aim of assuring that FSC remains the most trusted and credible certification system for forestry in the world.
One of these programmes focuses on identifying and addressing risk in supply chains. In collaboration with Assurance Services International (ASI), we have been conducting a global assessment of inaccurate claims in high-risk supply chains in a series of different commodities.
We are also piloting new solutions to manage risk in supply chains, where a high level of risk has been identified with the aim to expand successful initiatives to other high-risk supply chains in the future. Some supply chains currently included are bamboo, certain kinds of oak and charcoal.
- We worked with ASI to carry out thorough investigations in several supply chains to evaluate risk level.
- We expanded our use of traditional wood-anatomy testing to determine species and region of harvest for FSC-certified lump charcoal.
- We suspended or terminated all certificate holders where allegations of false claims were found to be conclusive.