We saw it on TV, we saw it on Facebook. -Buy American this holiday season and help Santa support the American manufacturing industry? Where did it come from? Did it work?
The Facebook campaign launched prior to the holidays was done by Made In the USA Challenge. Through a meme, they claimed that consumers could contribute substantially to our Nation’s fiscal health by purchasing American made products. The National Retail Federation estimates Americans will spend more than $586 billion this year on holiday gifts and goodies - that’s $750 per shopper. An article by ABC’s Diane Sawyer claims that if we all spent just $64 more on gifts with a “Made in America” label, we could create 200,000 new American jobs.
There is an abundance of Made In the USA visual marks. That doesn’t necessarily mean all those goods and services are in fact made in the USA. There is a special mark at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for verifying such patriotism of consumers’ goods and services. Look for the word “certified,” or the like, on your goods.
A certification mark is a mark that is used or intended to be used by authorized parties to show that goods or services have been certified, namely, to meet certain qualifications and standards. That is, a certification mark certifies regional or other origin of goods or services, as well as certifies other characteristics of goods or services, or certifies that the work or labor for the goods or services was performed by a particular group.
If the provider of a good or service can properly fit the definitions of the mark, then they can use it.
What happens if you discover a product falsely using “Made In USA” language? I asked the USPTO, to which they gave this canned response: “LEGAL ADVICE CANNOT BE PROVIDED.” It is important to note that the policing and enforcement of trademark rights lies with the owner. The USPTO only registers trademarks. The trademark owner is responsible for any enforcement.
There is a marked difference between a visual mark and a basic word mark. To use the words “MADE IN THE USA CERTIFIED” one will have to contend with the owners of those words: Made in USA Certified, Inc. in Florida and any person or entity using a visual mark containing those words would be might expect to find themself in a Florida courtroom.
If you just want to support the cause and could care less about enforcement, a good resources for finding all things Made In USA, is madeinusa.org.
I invite you to take this discourse further. Please email Daniel@elliott-davis.com. Subject Line: Made In USA.
Selecting and protecting your trademark is part of building your business. It’s an investment in the goodwill and reputation of your company. If we can help you with your trademark needs feel free to contact Daniel at Elliot-Davis, PC, (412) 434-4911, extension 34.