‘Tobacco-Free’ certification trademark may be accepted

The ACCC is proposing to accept an application for a certification trademark that signals to potential investors that investments by a fund manager or financial institution are ‘tobacco-free’.

Tobacco Free Portfolios Limited, which maintains a list of businesses involved in the manufacture of tobacco products, has applied to register the Tobacco Free certification trademark.

The trademark has three variations which indicate that the fund manager, or financial institution, does not have direct or indirect investments in companies involved in the manufacture of tobacco products, or the fund manager has committed to divesting any such tobacco holdings within two years.

“Many investors want to invest in funds that are tobacco free, and this mark will help them to make informed investment decisions,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

“Our initial assessment is that this trademark and the underlying rules meet the legal test for registration in that they are clear and not misleading or anti-competitive. Additionally, as the approved certifier, Tobacco Free Portfolios is able to competently assess whether funds and fund managers meet the certification requirements,” Mr Keogh said.

The ACCC invites comments and submissions before proceeding to a final assessment of the mark in early 2019.

Background

Tobacco Free Portfolios is a public company incorporated in Australia and is a charitable organisation registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

Tobacco Free Portfolios maintains a list of companies and other businesses that must be excluded from portfolios to meet the criteria for Verified Tobacco-Free.

The three variations of the certification trademark are illustrated below.

The ACCC, together with IP Australia, has a role in assessing and approving rules for the use of a certification trademark. As part of its assessment, the ACCC examines the rules to ensure they are not to the detriment of the public, or likely to raise any concerns relating to competition, unconscionable conduct, unfair practices, product safety and/or product information.

Interested persons have one month from the time the ACCC’s initial assessment is published by IP Australia to provide written or oral submissions, or seek a formal conference, before the ACCC makes its final assessment.

The proposed certification trademark rules and a copy of the ACCC’s initial assessment are also available at Tobacco Free Portfolios Limited – Certification Trade Mark application

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