With the increased recognition and value of GOTS logo and certification program, GOTS is also facing an increase in the number of trademark violations, false references to GOTS (certification) and fraudulent presentation that a company or its products are GOTS certified.
The International Working Group investigates such transgressions and is concerned to take appropriate actions such as corrective and/or legal action and/or publication of the transgression so as to safeguard the credibility of the GOTS program and its labelling system.
A company in Tirupur, India was banned for two years starting 10th July 2013. The reason was continued use of GOTS logo, certification reference and license number after being resigned from certification and ignoring corresponding notifications and deadlines. Its GOTS certificate expired on 20th March, 2012 and has not been renewed since then.
In order to avoid such implications and considering that most cases of unauthorised trademark use or false references are obviously based on lack of knowledge about (certain aspects of) the GOTS labeling system and the related certification requirements we would like to clearly state the following key features:
- Correct and complete GOTS labelling shows the trademark registered GOTS logo (or the lettering ‘Global Organic Textile Standard’), the GOTS label grade (‘organic’ or ‘made with organic’), a reference of the certification body and the license number and/or name of the certified entity (see labelling sample).
- Only a GOTS certified entity is authorised to apply the GOTS label to a product following approval and release by their assigned GOTS certifier.
- To avoid confusion and misleading consumers the GOTS labelling conditions do not offer use of the GOTS label (or reference to GOTS certification) on the garment / final textile product if the GOTS certification is only valid for intermediates (such as yarn or fabric). A precondition for on product label use is that the whole value chain and the final product are certified. Accordingly, claims used on textile products such as ‘this garment is made from GOTS certified cotton or yarn or fabric’ are self-claims of the seller and are neither verified nor allowed in the GOTS certification process.
- B2B traders must participate in the inspection and certification program before final products can be labelled as GOTS certified. Traders having an annual turnover with GOTS Goods less than 5.000€ do not need to become certified but must register with an Approved Certifier.
- Retailers who do not have a B2B trade activity and do not (re)pack or (re)label the GOTS Goods do not need to become certified but must assure that their seller (a trader or manufacturer) of the ready packed and labelled GOTS Goods is certified. In this case the labelling must include the license number of the certified trader or manufacturer supplying the GOTS Goods.
- The conditions also apply for identification of any GOTS Goods presented (for sale) in catalogues, on web pages or other publications (e.g. by mail order companies). In any case the user of GOTS labelling must ensure that no confusion arises between certified and non-certified products in any marking, publications and advertising.