Name change campaign launched against Fair Trade USA

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fair trade Fairtrade certification Fair trade usa

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has initiated a campaign against the name change of fair trade third-party certifier Fair Trade USA, which states these claims are without merit.

Fair Trade USA, which is the US member of the umbrella organization, Fairtrade International, changed its name from TransFair USA last October, but OCA claims it is an attempt to legally claim, as a brand, the term which encompasses the ‘fair trade’ movement.

Petition against the name change

"TransFair previously trademarked the term 'Fair Trade Certified' and incorrectly represents itself as the 'only fair trade certifier in the US.' The name change is a further attempt to perpetuate the myth that TransFair is the only fair trade certifier in the American fair trade movement,”​ said OCA executive Ronnie Cummins.

In a bid to celebrate fair trade as a movement of many parts, OCA is asking consumers, stores, companies and organizations to sign a petition to urge Fair Trade USA to keep the original name TransFair USA.

OCA says that consumers and organizations dedicated to building equitable markets for disadvantaged farmers and artisans through fair trade, believe that the term should be celebrated as a movement, not a brand claimed by any one organization.

Name change ‘much more appropriate’

However, Stacy Geagan Wagner, director of media and PR at Fair Trade USA, told USA that its former name ‘TransFair USA’ has little or no connection with what the company does, nor does the public understand the word.

Regarding the name change Geagan Wagner said this was not the case, the new name is more appropriate given the company’s mission, and dismissed claims it was trying to trademark the term ‘fair trade’.

“We do agree that fair trade is a movement, not a brand. Therefore, we will not attempt to trademark term. In fact, no one can trademark a fair use term such as ‘fair trade.’ That’s why groups like the Fair Trade Resource Network, Fair Trade Federation, and the Domestic Fair Trade Alliance all have the words “Fair Trade” in their names,”​ she explained.

OCA has also been joined by personal care company Dr. Bronner, as it requests the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation of deceptive practices in advertising and labeling of certain ‘Fair Trade Certified’ personal care products. There will be more on this in tomorrow’s publication.

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