Certification Marks in India
Certification marks on a commercial product are usually called as a mark of validity or an assurance of the fact that the manufacturer has tested the product and it has ensured that it meets the given quality standard. It also helps to specify the location of the origin, materials of construction, mode of production, characteristics of the good etc. Some of the marks are obligatory for certain products in order to be manufactured while the others just hold advisory status. India has a wide range of product certifications which are applicable to almost every category of product. These certifications are thus regulated by the laws that are made by the Government of India.
A certification mark certifies the nature or origin of the goods or the services to which it has been applied. This thus includes the region or the location or origin, materials of construction, method or mode of manufacture or provision, quality assurance, the accuracy of the goods or services or any definable characteristic of the goods or services. It can also certify the manufacture or the provision of services by the members of a union or also other organization to certain standards. The sole purpose of a certification mark is thus to indicate that certain standards have been met.
Section 2(1) (e) of Indian Trade Marks Act defines that a certification mark is a mark which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services in connection with which it is used in the course of trade which is thus certified by the proprietor of the mark in respect of its origin, material, mode of manufacture of goods or the performance of services, quality, accuracy or other characteristics from goods or services not so certified”.
A certification mark on a product may thus indicate the following:
The fact that there exists a product certification agreement between the manufacturer and an organization with the national accreditation for both testing and certification;
Legal evidence that the product was thus successfully tested in accordance with a nationally accredited standard; Legal assurance that the accredited certification organization has however ensured that the product that was successfully tested and it is identical to that which it is being offered for sale;
Legal assurance that the successful test has thus resulted in a certification listing, which is thus considered as public information and it also sets out the tolerances and the conditions of use for the certified product, in order to enable compliance with the law through the listing and approval use and compliance;
Legal assurance that the manufacturer is thus being regularly audited by the certification organization in order to ensure the maintenance of the original process standard that was employed in the manufacture of the test specimen that has passed the test.
The function of a certification mark, unlike a trademark, is thus not to indicate the source of origin but in order to certify that the goods or the services in relation to which it is applied are thus certified by the proprietor of the mark as to certain characteristics of the goods or services. The presence of a certification mark on a product or the service would give the consumer guidance and the resulting confidence in deciding as to whether to make a particular purchase or not. A certification mark is thus used by the various merchants in order to indicate that their products and the services have certain characteristics, such as a specific level of the product quality or a certain geographic origin.
A special body which is called as Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) which is under the aegis of the International Organisation for Standardisation(ISO standards) which thus govern all the industrial standardization and the industrial product certifications in India. It is thus a national standards organization of India.
Some of the states enforced certification marks, which are present in India are:
- ISI Mark: This mark is the most recognized mark for the standard industrial products in India. The mark thus certifies that the product conforms to the Standards which is laid by the BIS, mentioned as IS: xxx on top of the product. It is however mandatory for a number of products that are sold in India, especially the electronic goods. But in cases of other manufactured products, it is voluntary.
- FPO Mark: It is a mandatory mark which is required on all the processed fruit products in India, certifying that the product was thus manufactured in a ‘food-safe’ environment. It is thus used especially on packaged fruit beverages, fruit-jams, crushes, squashes, pickles, dehydrated fruit products, and the fruit extracts, which are following the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006.
- Agmark: It is the certification mark which is used on the agricultural products in India. It thus ensures that the products follow a set of standards that are approved by the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection, an agency of the Government of India. The AGMARK is legally enforced in India by the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act of 1937 (and amended in 1986).
- The Non-Polluting Vehicle Mark: It is a mandatory certification mark which is necessary for all the new motor vehicles that are manufactured and are sold in India. The mark certifies that the motor vehicle is in compliance with the relevant version of the Bharat Stage Emission Standards. A brand new vehicle also has a limited validity of 60 months from the date of sale of a vehicle. After this, the vehicle has to be tested again. The certification issued to a used vehicle is the Pollution under Control Certificate (PUC).
- BIS Hallmark: With India being the second biggest market for gold and its jewelry, it is thus important that the gold which is bought by the consumers must have a verified mark on them. The BIS Hallmark is a hallmarking system for the sale of precious metal like gold and silver jewelry in India which certify the purity of the metal. It verifies that the jewelry conforms to the standards which are set by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
- Indian Organic Certification: It is the mandatory product certification for organically farmed products manufactured in India. The certification mark validates that an organic food product conforms to the National Standards for Organic Product established in 2000. The standards certify that the product or the raw materials used in the product were grown through organic farming i.e. without the use of chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides etc. The certification is issued by testing centers accredited by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). Under the National Program for Organic Production of the Government of India.
- Ecomark: It is a certification mark certifying that the product conforms to a set of standards whose objective is to cause minimal damage to the ecosystem. It is issued by the BIS. The marking scheme commenced in 1991. It aims at increasing environmental awareness among consumers.
So, these are some certification marks which are applicable in India for a different type of products. All these marks thus work in tandem with the ISO certification.