Jan 17, 2022
USDA trademarks organic seal for ‘new enforcement tools’
Stephen Kloosterman

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently gave the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, or AMS, final trademark approval for the USDA organic seal, according to a newsletter from the National Organic Program.

“This key milestone increases law enforcement authority to penalize those who attempt to misuse the organic seal,” according to the newsletter.

The National Organic Program,which is a part of AMS, went on to describe how the trademark would be used:

“With official trademark protection, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center may seize and destroy shipments when fraudulent claims are found to have been made ­– significantly raising the risk and cost of crime. In the coming months NOP will work with our accredited certifiers and federal enforcement partners to begin using this new authority to better safeguard the integrity of the organic seal and deter fraudulent activities involving the organic seal. Watch for details this spring. This success is a direct outcome of the collaborative work of the Organic Agricultural Product Imports Interagency Working Group, established by the 2018 Farm Bill.”

In other news, the USDA reported first-quarter numbers for its cases of organic standards enforcement.

National Organic Program
National Organic Program

Of 324 cases closed in 2021, 59% were closed by voluntary compliance while 21% were closed due to finding of no violation. Of 442 cases still pending at the end of the calendar year, 53% were categorized as uncertified operations making organic claims while 20% were labeled as fraud and 11% were categorized as labeling errors. Detailed information is available on the agency’s organic enforcement web page.

“We are committed to providing information to the organic community in a way that is useful and supports robust enforcement of the regulations worldwide,” the NOP wrote in its newsletter. “We are continually looking for ways to improve our reporting tools and welcome feedback on the report format.”

Stephen Kloosterman is the managing editor of Organic Grower magazine.

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