ISO has elected to pursue some parties with legal action for trademark and copyright infringement over publication of the ISO 9001:2015 Committee Draft. Oxebridge maintains that effort is selective on ISO’s part, but ISO strongly disagrees. If ISO’s stand is correct, then registrar Det Norske Veritas is about to get served with some strongly-worded papers and a demand for serious damages.

During a recent ASQ event, a DNV Business Assurance representative presented a speech on the future of ISO 9001:2015. Not being an actual member of the US TAG or having any role in ISO 9001’s development, the presenter was instead forced to utilize the information he had at hand: the ISO 9001 Committee Draft that had been published on the web. But DNV took things a bit further with their “borrowing” of ISO’s much-protected documentation. Whereas an argument can be (and is being) made that simply making the document available was in keeping with the document’s own copyright notice, DNV apparently willfully and directly violated it.

Within ISO 9001:2015 CD, the following copyright notice is included:

Copyright notice from ISO 9001:2015

Going further, ISO Secretariat Legal Advisor Holger Gehring said:

 The posting of our standard is illegal because our standard is copyright protected [if] we did not grant permission to post it on [a] website. Copyright protection of our standards is indicated on each page of our standards.

But in the DNV presentation, posted on a website here, not only did DNV strip out the ISO copyright entirely, cropping the bottom of the page, but replaced it their own copyright claim, even adding DNV’s logo in the bottom corner of the page.

All in all, about 6 – 8 pages of the ISO 9001:2015 Committee Draft were reproduced in whole or part by DNV, and not a single copyright or trademark attribution is given to ISO.

In a further problem for the registrar, the presentation uses the official logo of ISO without attribution or indication of permission.


Oxebridge notice: logo is TM ISO. Despite what DNV says.

The graphic appears to have been taken from a presentation given in 2012 by Nigel Croft of the consulting firm The Croft Alliance, from a seminar hosted by DNV. The latest DNV presentation not only fails to attribute the logo to ISO, but does not attribute the source as The Croft Alliance. In fact, it appears The Croft Alliance also used the ISO graphic and logo without permission. The use of ISO’s logo is particularly troublesome, according to Scott Sisun, an attorney with the law firm Carter Ledyard and Milburn, which represents ISO in trademark disputes:

The misappropriation of the identical ISO trademark constitutes, inter alia, trademark infringement, false advertising and unfair competition, as well as dilution, in violation of Sections 43 (a) and (c) of the US Trademark Act, 15 USC section 1125(a) and (c) as well as under state and common law.

Making matters worse, there was a $10 to $55 fee associated with the event, violating the regulation against “reproduction for sales purposes.”

This is at least the second time this particular DNV representative has reproduced draft ISO 9001 standards for the purposes of marketing DNV services. A similar presentation was given in 2007, but in that case nearly the entire draft standard was reproduced and included the use of the ISO logo. The presentation does not attribute any copyright or trademark to ISO.

Will ISO pursue an infringement case against DNV? By their own rules, they may not have a choice if they want to defeat the argument that they enforce their rights selectively. Failing to do so may impact on any current infringement cases they have running:

When competitors do infringe on a trademark, the owner should not make the mistake of selective enforcement. If he or she does, the infringer who was targeted can use that fact as a legitimate defense. [Source]

We’ll see how this plays out in coming months.

About Christopher Paris

Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001 and Surviving AS9100. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.


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