EPEAT, Inc. (EPEAT) is an Oregon company that administers an environmental rating program certifying green computers and other electronic equipment.
Manufacturers can register their products as EPEAT certified, and purchasers, whether they are large institutions or individuals, can use EPEAT’s searchable registry to select certified products to buy.
Products that satisfy the EPEAT criteria, based on IEEE environmental standards, are EPEAT certified. More particularly, a product has to meet all of EPEAT’s required criteria to earn certification and, depending on how many of the optional criteria are met, the product is designated Bronze, Silver or Gold.
EPEAT owns two U.S. Certification Mark Registrations for its brand. U.S. Registration No. 3,534,585 is for the EPEAT word mark, and U.S. Registration No. 3,534,586 is for the EPEAT design mark pictured above.
Both registrations are for “electronic equipment” in Class A and each states that the mark ”certifies that the goods meet environmental standards set out by the certifier.”
Certification marks differ from ordinary trademarks in that, instead of indicating the commercial source of a product or service, they communicate that goods or services meet certain quality or manufacturing standards. They are owned not by the individual businesses, but by the organizations that set the standards, in this case EPEAT.
For the certification mark application process, it is the certifying organization, not the ultimate user, that applies to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for federal registration of a certification mark.
The EPEAT certification has been in the news recently because of Apple’s equivocation on whether to use it for its computers. Apple decided to drop its EPEAT certification, but did a 180 after several high-profile customers indicated that they would be unable to buy Apple’s monitors, laptops or desktop computers absent the certification.
According to this Greenbiz piece, many government agencies and corporations use the EPEAT registry as a guideline for IT procurement. Clearly, eco-labels, particularly independent third party environmental certifications such as EPEAT, are becoming essential for doing business.
Eric Lane is a patent attorney at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org