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Seen on millions of products, the FSC trademarks – most recognizably the famous FSC ‘check tree’ logo – are trusted by consumers worldwide. We enjoy a collaborative relationship with our stakeholders, who are instrumental and integral in helping FSC unearth and resolve their infringement cases.
Trademark infringement refers to the unauthorized use of marks to mislead or confuse consumers.
Infringement is remedied by taking appropriate legal action against the infringer, including using available laws where necessary. The FSC’s legal department deals with infringement matters; however, the preliminary process may involve national or regional offices.
Potential consequences of infringements for FSC include:
A note on trademark misuse – Misuse of trademarks refers to noncompliant uses of trademarks by licensed users. Misuses are often remedied by engaging and obligating the licensee to follow and comply with FSC trademark standards/guidelines.
FSC’s trademark management unit is responsible for controlling and remedying misuses. FSC’s legal department is not involved in resolving misuse incidences, unless and only when a legal question arises.
Our stakeholders are vital in our effort to preserve the credibility and integrity of the FSC system. The information and intelligence we gather from you are invaluable. The infringement reporting form is one of the options stakeholders can use to contribute to a credible system.
You can submit an infringement report using the reporting form. Take note of the required fields. The form contains placeholder texts that will give you an overview of the information you must provide to complete the form. You may also click on the question marks to get additional help. You can generate a PDF copy of the report for your reference.
Alternatively, you can send a physical report to FSC Global Development GmbH (Legal Department) at Adenauerallee 134, 53113 Bonn, Germany, or by fax at +49 (0) 228 367 66-65.
Suspicion can be raised where a merchant claiming to be FSC-certified:
does not display their certificate;
the certificate has been altered to make it difficult to read;
parts of the certificate have been obscured/altered; or
the certificate bears a name closely resembling that of the merchant.
Licence number for certificate holders: FSC-C, followed by six digits
Licence number for promotional licence holders: FSC-N, followed by six digits
Licence number for public project certification: FSC-P, followed by six digits.
Infringers, as with counterfeiters, often sell sub-standard products, passing them off as having met certification approval processes.
There are noticeable “red flags” that should raise suspicion of infringement. These include:
Suppliers who hide their certificates try to make them unreadable or obscure parts of the certificate, especially the name of the organization issued with the certificate;
The name on the certificate does not match the merchant/seller;
FSC trademarks that are modified, out of shape, with wrong colours, or the trademark symbol is missing;
Products with suspiciously low prices, for example, Teak, Ebony, or Pink Ivory listed as cheaper than Pine wood;
Non-wood products like granite, plastic, carbon, and metals misleadingly marked as FSC-certified;
Products listed as originating from FSC, for example, FSC paper, FSC tables, FSC wood, FSC stationary, or FSC plywood; or
Laudatory statements by merchants to describe goods, for example, “FSC high-quality products,” “FSC genuine quality approved,” “FSC-guaranteed genuine wood,” “FSC exotic quality chairs,” etc.
Infringements are handled by the legal department.
To enable a timely and efficient response to a reported matter, FSC typically requires the following information:
You should receive a notification if you have provided an email and have requested to be kept updated. The FSC legal department receives the submitted report. We will verify the information internally and may also reach out to you for further details. The matter is then categorized according to the nature of the infringement. Any proceeding action is dependent on the categorization.
To be kept updated on the case, a reporter must provide a functional email and select the option to receive updates before submitting the form. FSC will only update as to the status of the case. For example, to let you know that the matter has been resolved, the product has been taken off the shelf, or the infringing mark has been removed. No substantive, technical, or legal information will be shared with the reporter.
Infringement matters vary in nature and complexity and thus may require different approaches and timelines to conclude.
After verification, analysis, and categorization we may have a better estimation of how much time it may require to resolve an issue. It may take from just a few days to a couple of years, especially in cases where courts have been approached.
If you have insufficient information, you can still submit the report to us. You are still required to upload evidence (picture, document, video, URL, etc.) of the potentially infringing material with a brief explanation of the matter. This should help initiate an investigation and verification process.
FSC provides access to useful information and tools that could be used to verify facts prior to an infringement report.
Where possible and practical, please consult with the following:
§ The FSC Public Search Portal: - Information and details related to Trademark Service License holders, Promotional License holders, Project Certifications, and Forest Management Evaluations can be accessed here, i.e., License codes; Certificate codes, status, and type; Licensee names, addresses, and country; Licensee products and activities.
§ “FSC Labels” page: - Provides explanations on the 3 labels used by FSC.
§ “How to use the FSC Logo” page: - Description of how to use the FSC Logos and access to guiding documentation.
This information does not form a legal opinion. If in doubt, please contact FSC Legal department.