What is a certification mark?
A certification mark on a product is an indication that a product is safe to use and has met compliance with certain testing standards for quality and/or safety. Also known as a trademark, a certification mark can provide:
The specific geographic region of a product
Confirmation that the goods or services meet standards in terms of safety quality, materials, and/or how they are manufactured
It should be noted that certification marks are only valid and enforceable in the country in which they are registered, as different countries have varied regulations in place for registering certification marks.
What is a certified product?
A product which has been certified indicates that it has been tested and certified by an accredited organisation, meaning it conforms to a set of recognized industry standards.
What are Rogue operators?
Rogue operators are individuals and organisations that take advantage of the system by falsifying test reports or certification documents.
Who issues certification marks? And what does the process imply?
On one hand, in some countries, a manufacturer is allowed, in some cases, to self-declare their own products’ compliance after performing their own conformity assessment against the regulatory requirements - this means that a third-party organisation is not required to show compliance, and it is incumbent on the manufacturer to show proof they have met the necessary regulatory requirements.
On the other hand, for other products, it is mandatory to be tested and certified by an independent third party to show compliance, thus the certification mark is provided by a third party.
In addition, the manufacturer also has the option of obtaining a voluntary test mark issued by an independent third party for their products, provided that the relevant test requirements are met.
If the product does not meet or pass the applicable test requirements, the manufacturer must then take actions to update the product and resubmit it to the testing and certification process.
Products that meet the necessary applicable requirements are approved by the certification body and receive the corresponding testing documentation and/or certificate. The product can then be legally distributed into the relevant market.
Certified products are then labelled with the appropriate certification mark and are listed in the certification body’s Directory of Listed Products.
How can one recognise an authentic vs fake certification mark?
An authentic certification mark can be spotted in various forms such as a label or a tag. However, in many cases, it can be very difficult to distinguish between an authentic and a fake certification mark.
One of the biggest issue nowadays, especially with the high demand of online shopping, is that the distribution of products bearing fake certification marks has risen dramatically. Sadly, this can pose high risks to the health and safety of consumers.
Here are some common signs and red flags that consumers should look out for when assessing the authenticity of a mark:
Look for any misspellings, errors, or misprints on labels, tags, plates, or packaging
Be suspicious of pricing that is “too good to be true”. In most situations, this will be the case.
Look closely for obvious quality issues with packaging or the product itself
Be wary of products from unknown sellers, online auctions, or no-name stores, including “copycat” e-commerce websites
Many companies that license certification marks provide information to customers on their websites to try and help them identify counterfeit certification marks.
You can find more information at TIC Council’s Anti-Counterfeiting website page, in the Member Marks Reference Guide.
What are the dangers and risks of counterfeiting?
Counterfeiting a product’s certification mark, or falsifying a test report/certificate, can pose serious dangers to the consumer as well as to the environment.
When products are tested and certified, it is typically to prevent one from dangers such as electric shock, fire, exposure, burns, chemical risk, electromagnetic or ionising radiation, or personal injury, which may result in death.
Manufacturers and distributors who bypass the proper testing and certification requirements put consumers at risk.