Transfer Pricing Associates

Tweed the World

post Friday December 28, 2012


Intellectual Property can take many forms. Individuals typically think of patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. There are additional types of IP, one is the certification mark. The certification mark is a distinct variation of the trademark. Certification marks differentiate a product because of high standards of quality, traditionally unique designs, the nature of the product and even certain geographical characteristics that would typically not be protectable under a trade mark for a product or process. A result of the very unique relationship between the certification mark and the product, some of the standard rules of trademarks may or may not apply or must be interpreted differently. One example of this is the Harris Tweed certification mark.

The Harris Tweed Authority certification mark draws its unique quality of product and process because
of the specific stipulations that must be met in order to be considered Harris Tweed. In order to bare the Harris Tweed certification mark, according to the Harris Tweed Act of 1993, the following must be true: "Handwoven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides." The Outer Hebrides are a chain of islands that are roughly one hundred and thirty miles long on the Atlantic seaboard of Scotland. What makes the Harris Tweed differentiated is the process for production that is unique to the Outer Hebrides. The industry of producing the Harris Tweed is predominantly done in small houses or homes and has been left almost entirely unchanged from the mechanization and technological breakthroughs of the past one hundred years. The specific requirement of hand weaving the tweed has protected this industry.

The Harris Tweed certification mark is known globally for the quality and style of the product as well as the method of creation. Because of the certification mark, the nature and quality of the product is guaranteed for consumers, and a result of this differentiation is a standout industry in spite of the troubling economic times. In fact, the Harris Tweed Association reports that the industry has seen growth of 30% on year following 2009. The unique combination of quality and process has led to a very valuable form of intellectual property in the Harris Tweed certification mark.

Source: UK Inellectual Property Office

Image Source: Free Digital Photos

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