Legal Issues - Altering a certification body's logo

My company is giving its product packaging a design overhaul and I am wondering how “creative” we can be in adapting food certification bodies’ logo. Does anyone have substantial experience in this arena and would give me their opinion whether or not the attached logo adaptions are permissible? Needless to say that all logo owners stipulate that no alterations (other than “permissible” ones) can be made and changing the basic colour of the logo is usually considered non-permissible. However, given that the logos are not going to be used in bad faith, can anyone judge whether the logo owners would come after me?

I think you’re going to end up with Trademark or Copyright issues whether used in good faith or not. Easy to find out by contacting the agencies. I’m surprised you didn’t do that first.

It’s also about consumer recognition – and the value the agency mark adds to your product. You’re not just adding it for decoration.

Sounds like if they state in specifically in their documentation the usage rights then yes, I believe absolutely you can’t do any of what you proposed.

“Bad faith” is subjective. You may think it helps your packaging but they may look at their very purposely chosen green colors and be confused why you’d change it to orange - the same way someone from the Bluetooth consortium might have an issue by changing the Bluetooth B to hot pink.

Most marks like this have a web site with specific usage guidelines, which if available include single colored graphic variations (that sometimes can be used as pure black on white). Other then that, I think you need to keep them as is unless there is good reason otherwise. You wouldn’t want your company to produce thousands of dollars of material (or more) that has to be taken back due to a logo mishap - that could likely be the end of your job.

Apple pretty much redesigns all of the certification marks for their products and packaging. Our legal department is not as adventurous, but we have pushed the boundaries a little when it really mattered.

You are right but apparently my initial post wasn’t phrased properly and is quite misleading.

I am certainly aware that companies and organisations take their intellectual property seriously (so do I) and have an aversion seeing their design altered. I was just wondering at what point the logo owners will go on a “legal rampage”, i. e. take legal action once they spot such issues. Perhaps it was a silly question that is impossible to answer.

Thanks a lot for your reply!

Impossible to answer that. It depends on the agency and your company’s relationship with them. It would be impossible to say what % of modification they would tolerate.What you showed seems reasonable to me, but it may or may not be to them. Also, your legal department may want to weigh in.

Right off the bat, I’d say, no alterations would be likely acceptable. There are standard use guidelines for a reason and especially with regulatory symbols you want the consumer to see and recognize them very quickly.

There are likely single color (black/white) logos you can use. Don’t give yourself (and legal) more work trying to change.

In the end, while you might think it is better for the graphics, you may also be doing the product a disservice if the consumer is looking for something organic and on the lookout for a green circle, but they don’t see one and only see something orange and pick your competitor with the symbol they are looking for. Original logos are green for a reason, something usually associated with organic/environmental, etc. Quickly scanning a shelf full of packaging an orange logo will not do that.


Just like every other brand in the world, there will be guidelines.

If you don’t follow the guidelines, there will be consequences.