Toxic Trade News / 23 January 2011
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Environmental Group Re-Files Legal Complaint to Protect e-Waste Certification Program from Unfair Trademark Competition
Phrase “Certified Electronics Recycler” must not be exclusive
BAN Media Release
23 January 2011 (Seattle, Washington) – The environmental watchdog group Basel Action Network (BAN), known for its work exposing the international dumping of US e-waste on developing countries and creating the e-Stewards® Certification program for responsible e-waste recyclers, has filed an amended complaint in the Federal District Court of Western Washington in Seattle. The complaint asserts that the use of the trademark “certified electronics recycler” is inappropriate and harms BAN and the recyclers in the e-Stewards® Certification program.

BAN has amended its earlier complaint following an initial dismissal by the court in December of last year. BAN believes that its e-Stewards recycler program is being unfairly harmed by the ISRI trademark claims and believes that its complaint will be addressed.

“The granting of exclusive trademark rights for words that describe generically what many do and what
e-Stewards certified recyclers do misleads the public and puts our certified recyclers at a competitive disadvantage,”
said BAN executive director Jim Puckett. “Just as McDonald’s and Wendy’s can both rightfully use the phrase ‘certified beef hamburgers’ to describe their product, neither can register that phrase as a trademark because that would imply exclusivity,” he explained. “If one did it, it would harm the other.”

The lawsuit alleges that the phrase “certified electronics recycler” currently used by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) for its RIOS/R2 Certification is a generic descriptor and should be available for all that are in the business of certifying electronics recyclers to use.

The amended complaint and supporting documents have been filed with the court on January 13, 2011 and can be found at:


For more information contact:

Bradford J. Axel, Stokes Lawrence, P.S.: (206) 626-6000

Jim Puckett, Executive Director, Basel Action Network: (206) 652-5555

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The Basel Action Network is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Select images courtesy of Chris Jordan