On December 8, 2015, the Board for Certification of Genealogists™(BCG) obtained official registration of “Certified Genealogist®” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This registration offers several legal benefits such as:
- the right to use the federal registration symbol ® for Certified Genealogist,
- a legal presumption of ownership of the mark and the exclusive right to use it nationwide,
- it allows the owner to bring a federal lawsuit against infringers and recover damages and attorney’s fees, and
- a means of stopping “cybersquatters” from registering a domain name using the mark.
“We are pleased to achieve this level of protection through the trademark registration,” said President Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG. "The Board for the Certification of Genealogists thanks all of the volunteers that have worked over the years to achieve the protection of Certified Genealogist provided by the trademark registration.”
BCG currently uses several marks. Our name—Board for Certification of Genealogists—and certification mark—Certified Genealogist—are registered trademarks. Our credentials other than our registered certification mark—CG, CGL and Certified Genealogical Lecturer—are service marks. If a mark is not registered with the USPTO, the trademark owner may not legally use the ® symbol in connection with the mark.
The following discussion provides guidance about acceptable practices and uses (the methods of using and displaying all marks other than the newly registered certification mark remain the same as previously suggested; see, e.g., Michael S. Ramage, “A Primer on the Use of BCG Trademarks,” OnBoard 17 (May 2011): 1; and The BCG Application Guide(Washington, D.C.: Board for Certification of Genealogists, 2015), 21 - 22; PDF download, Board for Certification of Genealogists (http://www.bcgcertification.
Use in Text or Speech: It is not proper usage to state, “I am a Certified Genealogist,” as that is a generic usage. On the other hand, it is proper usage to state, “I am Certified Genealogist John Doe,” “I am Jane Doe, Certified Genealogist,” or “I hold a Certified Genealogist credential.”
Use in Stationery: Examples of proper listing of this credential in letterhead: John Doe, Certified Genealogist® orJohn Doe, CGSM
When we use the superscript ® or SM it is not necessary to provide any further notice of who owns the marks. If an associate prefers to not use the superscript abbreviations, they may be omitted as long as an appropriate notice is placed in a footer on the page where the post-nominal first appears. The following notices are examples of acceptable usage:
The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designation CG a proprietary service mark, of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by authorized associates following peer-reviewed competency evaluations. Certificate No. XX, renewed, expires .
The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation, and the board name is registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
Use in Email and Websites: When your email program and website support superscript and symbols the same rules apply as with stationery. However, when your email program and website do not support superscript and symbols, the following practices are acceptable:
(1) instead of superscripting the SM, place in parentheses, as in (SM); and
(2) instead of using the symbol ® after the name of our board or registered certification mark, Certified Genealogist, substitute “(R)” or the phrase “and the board name is registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office” or “and the words Certified Genealogist are registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. ‘
Use by Editors: Where a single publication may contain references to credentials conferred by a number of organizations, BCG suggests a notice like the following be included in the front matter, acknowledging intellectual property rights in credential designations of each body:
Genealogical Credentials: The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®. Accredited Genealogist® and AG® are certification marks of the International Commission for Accreditation of Professional Genealogists SM. Individuals are licensed to use the credential designations after meeting the competency standards of those organizations. FASG designates fellows of the American Society of Genealogists, an honorary society limited to fifty living members chosen for the quality of their published genealogical scholarship. Fellowship in other societies awarded on the basis of scholarship, rather than service or support to the society, may also be recognized by a post-nominal designation incorporating the society’s initials.
In cases where only BCG-credentialed individuals are cited the notice may be shortened as follows:
The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.
The proper use of our credentials by board certificants will strengthen our marks and reduce the workload of our team (currently led by Malissa Ruffner, Chair, Intellectual Property Committee) that polices the proper use by our certificants and third parties.
[The above announcement was submitted to the BCG Board by Michael S. Ramage, J.D., Certified Genealogist® and Treasurer, Board for Certification of Genealogists, used by permission.]
For questions or more information contact office@BCGcertification.org.