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What is a collective mark?

A collective mark is a mark used by a collective group on their individual goods and services. There are two different types of such collective marks.

The first type of collective mark is a collective membership mark. This is used by merchants to indicate that they are members of some collective group. For example, the mark CPA, used by an accountant, indicates that the accountant is a member of the Society of Certified Public Accountants. Unlike trademarks or service marks, collective membership marks are not actually used to indicate the source of the goods or services - instead, they indicate that the seller is part of a defined group.

However, the second type of collective marks, collective trademarks and collective service marks, do indicate source. Such collective marks are used by a group to indicate that the goods or services offered by each individual member of the group are products or services of the collective. For example, when the Girl Scouts sell their cookies, they use the GIRL SCOUTS mark as a collective trade mark - no matter who is selling Girl Scout cookies, the purchaser knows that the cookies are Girl Scout products. It should be noted that collective trademarks and collective service marks are very similar to certification marks, except that certification marks are owned by an individual and can be used by anyone who meets the certification standards, while collective marks are owned by a group and can only be used by members of that collective group.