Humane Farm Animal Care (CTM 1914662)

Closed 30 Aug 2019

Opened 2 Aug 2019

Overview

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is considering an application from Humane Farm Animal Care to register a certification trade mark (CTM).

The CTM intends to certify that animal derived products bearing the mark have complied with Humane Farm Animal Care’s livestock and poultry welfare standards.  The mark bears the words ‘CERTIFIED HUMANE,’ and is illustrated below.


The applicant

The applicant is Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC). HFAC states that its mission is ‘to improve the welfare of farm animals by providing viable, credible, duly monitored standards for humane food production and ensuring customers that certified products meet these standards.’ HFAC was established in the USA, and has operated there for some time.

The CTM rules

The rules governing the use of CTM comprise the Rules for the Certification Trade Mark of Certified Humane and the following Annexures (together referred to as the Proposed CTM Rules):

1.

Program/Policy Manual, 1 October 2016

2.

Beef Cattle standards, January 2014

3.

Chickens standards, August 2014

4.

Egg Laying Hens standards, January 2018

5.

Dairy Cows standards, January 2014

6.

Dairy, Fiber and Meat Goats standards, March 2013

7.

Pigs standards, January 2018

8.

Sheep, including Dairy Sheep standards, March 2013

9.

Turkeys standards, August 2014

10.

Young Dairy Beef, January 2012

11.

Bison standards, January 2014

12.

Inspector Information Manual, April 2013.

13.

Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines and Audit Guide: A systematic Approach to Animal Welfare, June 2017

14.

Procedures for Humane Euthanasia, 28 January 2013

15.

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Guidelines on Euthanasia, June 2007

The Proposed CTM Rules contain animal welfare standards that relate to the treatment of a variety of livestock and poultry from farm to slaughter.

On 21 June 2019 the parties advised of two proposed amendments to the Proposed CTM Rules. The first is to include the following paragraph:

The CTM rules which are available to Australian farmers and/or suppliers are compliant with Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines and will be automatically modified in accordance with these standards.

The second is in relation to the proposed process to vary the Proposed CTM Rules, to include a statement to note the requirement for the ACCC’s approval of any proposed changes to the Proposed CTM Rules in the future.

A copy of the Proposed CTM Rules is available below.

How does the ACCC assess CTMs

Under Part 16 of the Trade Marks Act 1995 (TMA), before a CTM can be registered by IP Australia the ACCC must be satisfied that certain criteria are met. Specifically, under section 175(2) of the TMA, the ACCC must give a certificate approving the registration of a CTM if it is satisfied that:

  1. the attributes a person must have to become an approved certifier are sufficient to enable the person to assess competently whether the goods and/or services meet the requirements to become certified, and
  2. the CTM rules:

           a. would not be to the detriment of the public and

           b. are satisfactory having regard to the principles prescribed in the TM   

           Regulations, being:

  • the principles relating to restrictive trade practices in Part IV of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA),
  • the principles relating to unconscionable conduct set out in Part 2-2 of the Australian Consumer Law as contained in Schedule 2 to the CCA (ACL), and
  • the principles relating to unfair practices (Part 3-1), product safety and product information (Part 3-3) in Schedule 2 of the ACL.

Therefore, the ACCC’s assessment will include whether HFAC’s Proposed CTM Rules are likely to raise any competition concerns or may result in consumers being misled. 

Further information about how the ACCC assesses CTMs is also available at: Certification trade marks: the role of the ACCC

Consultation

The ACCC invites you to comment on HFAC’s CTM application to inform the ACCC’s initial assessment.  We are interested in your views on any aspect of the application, including your views on whether the various farm animal welfare standards contained in the Proposed CTM Rules would ensure that animals are treated in a way that is consistent with Australian consumers’ reasonable expectations of ‘humane’ food production.

If you wish to comment, please do so by Friday, 30 August 2019.

Submissions should be emailed to CTMs@accc.gov.au with the subject “CTM 1914662 - Certified Humane - Submission”.

Confidentiality

Submissions will be placed on the ACCC’s website, unless otherwise requested. Please indicate clearly in your submission whether you are content for the ACCC to make it publicly available, or if you are requesting exclusion (with brief reasons for your request).

Public submissions made to the ACCC are available in the ‘Related documents’ section at the bottom of this page (following the various Annexures to the CTM Rules).

You can also forward the ACCC’s consultation letter (link below) to any other party who may wish to make a comment to the ACCC regarding the CTM application.

What Happens Next

The ACCC will release an initial assessment of the application, which will be open to further public comment, and will then issue a final assessment.

Please advise if you do not wish to make any comments at this time, but would like to be informed of the outcome of the ACCC’s initial and/or final assessment. If you are able to, please provide a nominated contact email address for future correspondence.

Audiences

  • Veterinarians
  • Consumer groups
  • Government

Interests

  • Consumer issues
  • Competition issues