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In addition to creating technical standards that describe how different products or services interoperate, many standards development organizations (SDOs) also perform testing services that are designed to ensure that products that ostensibly comply with a standard actually work together. SDOs frequently call this process “certification,” and authorize implementers that pass the testing process to use a logo or similar mark. Certification marks are a type of trademark that would seem to be tailor-made for this process. Our empirical analysis shows that SDOs use certification marks only relatively rarely, however. This dissonance is striking, providing insight into both the remarkably sophisticated practices of many SDOs in connection with compliance and interoperability testing and into potential weaknesses of the certification mark legal regime. The empirical data presented in the paper is intended to serve as a foundational platform for further work analysing the law and policy of certification marks and the practices of SDOs in connection with interoperability testing and certification.
Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Standardisation and Innovation in Information Technology (SIIT), Sept. 7, 2021