Frequently Asked Questions

On 31 May, 2011, the RSPO's new trademark was released for use in the market.

This page offers quick access to answers to the most Questions & Answers about using the trademark. For more information about the trademark, please e-mail the Trademark helpdesk.

Questions about the transition from old to new communication rules
  • The main reason for modifying the rules on communication & claims was the introduction of an RSPO trademark for product-related communications.
  • The new rules are more precise than the old rules. What's more, they specify when and how the RSPO trademark can be used by companies or organizations that communicate about RSPO-certified sustainable palm products.
  • The new rules went into effect on 31 May 2011, when they were announced at the RSPO website (www.rspo.org).
  • Yes, you probably do, because you will need to follow the new rules from now on. There is, however, a 12 month grace period in which you can continue to use existing stocks of communication materials that were created before the new rules came into effect. Those could include stocks of packaging, flyers, brochures and so forth.
  • Yes, you can. There is a 12 month grace period in which you can continue to use existing stocks of communication materials that were created before the new rules came into effect. Those could include stocks of packaging, flyers, brochures and so forth. Such stocks remain covered by the old 'Guidelines on Communication & Claims' (adopted by the RSPO Executive Board on 28 September, 2009).
  • Yes, they can. The RSPO will review all relevant regulations 12 months after they went into effect.
  • A company is not authorized to use the RSPO name, corporate logo and/or trademark if it does not comply fully with RSPO regulations. Depending on the company's membership status and the exact breach, various things can happen:

      The RSPO trademark is legally protected, so RSPO can challenge unauthorized use of the trademark by any company through legal means;
      The RSPO reserves the right to publish any case of unauthorized communication it encounters;
      RSPO members can be subjected to an RSPO grievance procedure;
      RSPO members and non-members can be found to make misleading claims, either by the RSPO or by third parties.

Questions about 'corporate communication'
  • Corporate communication talks about companies, organizations or brands, not individual products. It can take many forms, including advertisements, flyers, brochures, posters, displays, newsletters, websites, e-mail footers, letters and (annual) reports. RSPO-related corporate communication typically discusses an organization's RSPO membership status and its dedication to RSPO-certified sustainable palm products in general. RSPO-related communication stops being seen as 'corporate' as soon as specific products are discussed. Then, it becomes 'product-related communication'.
  • Generally speaking: No. You can use the RSPO name (if you comply with the RSPO's rules), but you can not use the RSPO corporate logo. There are two exceptions to this general rule:

      Ordinary members of the RSPO can use the RSPO corporate logo on their corporate website, but only if they add the text 'Check our progress report at www.rspo.org'. The text 'www.rspo.org' must link to the member's profile page at www.rspo.org.
      RSPO-approved certification bodies can use the RSPO corporate logo in their corporate communications.
      Use of the RSPO corporate logo in presentations to educate market parties on the RSPO is deemed 'non-commercial communication'.

    For approval, send specifics on your non-commercial use of the logo to trademark@rspo.org.
  • No, you can not use the RSPO trademark in your corporate communication. The RSPO trademark can only mark products; it never marks companies or organizations.

Questions about 'product-related communication'
  • Product-related communication talks about specific (groups of) products. It can take many forms, including packaging, labels, advertisements, flyers, brochures, posters, displays, newsletters, websites, product offerings and invoices.

    RSPO-related communication stops being seen as 'corporate' as soon as specific products are discussed. Then, it becomes 'product-related communication'.
  • No, you can not use the RSPO corporate logo for about-product communication. The RSPO corporate logo can only mark companies or organizations; it never marks products.
  • Yes, you can (if you comply with the RSPO's rules).

    Product-related communication is voluntary. However, IF you apply consumer-facing product-related communications, THEN you must include the RSPO trademark where possible. Before using the trademark, be sure to acquire a trademark license.
  • Yes, you do.
  • Every year, the RSPO Executive Board sets the trademark license compensation schedule. At least until 1 July 2012, all trademark license compensations have been waived.
  • No, you can not. Any company that wants to communicate the use of RSPO-certified sustainable palm products to its customers must be an ordinary or associate member of the RSPO and follow the appropriate RSPO rules. Only this way can the integrity of the supply chain and the RSPO trademark be protected.
  • Yes, you can use the RSPO trademark in product-related communication if you comply with one or both of these RSPO supply chain systems. You can choose from eight image files, with or without the tag “CERTIFIED” (or a translation) or the statement “contains certified sustainable palm oil. www.rspo.info” (or a translation).
  • Yes, you can use the RSPO trademark in product-related communication if you comply with the Mass Balance system. You can choose from four image files. All include the tag “MIXED” (or a translation); some include the statement “contributes to the production of certified sustainable palm oil. www.rspo.info” (or a translation).

    The word 'MIXED' refers to the coming together of certified and non-certified sources at the company level, not necessarily at the product level. The 'mixing' is administratively monitored through annual certification body audits. Audits ensure that the amount of certified sustainable palm products claimed in product-related communication does not exceed the amount of certified sources. In some cases, a product carrying the trademark will not itself contain the certified palm-derived ingredients, but then other, unmarked products of the same company will.
  • No, you can not. You can use a written claim (“Contributes to the production of certified sustainable palm oil. www.rspo.info”). For more information, see GreenPalm's communication rules at www.greenpalm.org.

    Note that there is one temporary and limited exception in which you can use the trademark. If you use the Book & Claim system to complement IP/SG or MB sources because of limited market availability, you can use the RSPO trademark if both of the following conditions have been met: (1) all four RSPO supply chain systems together (including B&C) cover at least 95% of the palm ingredients in the product, and (2) the IP, SG and/or MB systems together cover at least 75% of the palm ingredients in the product. A flow chart in the Rules on Communication and Claims further explains which rules must be followed in each case.
  • No, you can not. Use of the RSPO trademark is limited to products in which at least 95% of all palm-derived ingredients was sourced in compliance with RSPO supply chain systems. When several systems are combined to reach the 95% threshold, the rules for combined supply chain systems must be applied.
  • The Rules on Communications and Claims have a special section on what to do when combining supply chain systems. A flow chart in that section helps you determine which rules apply. For example, rules differ between consumer-facing and non-consumer-facing (business-to-business) communication.
  • Yes, you can, but only in non-consumer-facing (business-to-business) communications. You can not use percentages together with the RSPO trademark.

    For example, palm oil traders can use invoices, offerings or digital records to specify how much of their palm oil was sourced through various RSPO supply chain systems. They can specify certified material using the standard format 'ProductName/SG-00%,MB-00%' (with correct percentages).
  • No, you can not. Only the claims specified in the Rules can be used in product-related communication.
  • No, you can not. The RSPO will provide translations and translated image files to you. You are welcome to suggest a translation if no claim in the desired language is available yet.
  • Yes, you can. The Rules specify the kind of story-telling that is allowed depending on the supply chain system through which the palm oil was sourced.
  • Generally speaking: No, you can not, because you need to follow the new rules from now on, which do not allow you to use the RSPO corporate logo for product-related communication.

    There is, however, a 12 month grace period in which you can continue to use existing stocks of communication materials that were created before the new rules came into effect. Those could include stocks of packaging, flyers, brochures and so forth.
  • Operations at the manufacturing company that is responsible for the claim should be covered by a supply chain certificate; In the public database, the license number that goes with the claim should refer to that supply chain certificate.

    In this example, Company A is contracted by Company B; Company B is responsible for the claim, should be supply chain certified and needs a corresponding trademark license. Company B's license number should be printed on pack.
  • In this situation, both the manufacturer and the retailer must be RSPO members. For on-pack use of the trademark, the manufacturer must (1) be supply chain-certified and (2) acquire a trademark license. The license number, which is linked to the manufacturer’s supply chain certificate, must be printed on pack. For on-pack use of the trademark, the retailer does not have to be supply chain-certified and does not require a trademark license.

    If the retailer (also) wants to communicate off-pack, e.g. through flyers, web pages, advertisements or magazines, then the retailer needs his own trademark license. In off-pack communications, the retailer must display its own trademark license number.
  • Food service companies are classified as 'manufacturers' when their processes include modifying contents and packaging of their products. If so, and if they want to communicate about their use of RSPO-certified sustainable palm-derived ingredients, they must be supply-chain certified. If their product-related communication will face consumers, the trademark would have to be included in product-related communication.
  • No, you don't. Food service companies are classified as businesses, not as consumers. While your company is free to use the trademark on pack in such cases, you can also choose the 'business-to-business' option: specify certified material using the standard format 'ProductName/SG-00%,MB-00%' (with correct percentages), without using the trademark.
  • The numbered trademark should reassure consumers that RSPO certification covers the full supply chain between grower and supermarket shelve. Through an online public database, they should be able to link the numbered trademark on their product to the supply chain certificate of the manufacturer and a kind of listing in which the product can be found.
  • Yes, you do, but only for products for which you have acquired a trademark license yourself. Adding other products to the listing/description is voluntary.
  • Yes, you do.

Questions about 'non-commercial communication'
  • Non-commercial communication does not serve an interest of a particular party in the trade of palm products. Its purpose could be to promote the RSPO or the RSPO trademark or to educate the market, the media or the general public. It can take many forms, including advertisements, news stories, flyers, brochures, posters, displays, newsletters, websites, e-mail footers, letters and (annual) reports. RSPO-related non-commercial communication is typically carried out by NGOs, news media, industry organizations or other parties not themselves involved in the palm product trade.
  • No, unless you have received written approval from the RSPO Communications office. For approval, send specifics on your non-commercial use of the logo to trademark@rspo.org.
  • No, unless you have received written approval from the RSPO Communications office. For approval, send specifics on your non-commercial use of the logo to trademark@rspo.org. If you have approval, you do not need an RSPO trademark license.

Questions about getting an RSPO trademark license
  • Yes, any company that trades palm products and intends to display the RSPO trademark in product-related communications must acquire a trademark license.
  • No, you are free to choose the level at which you want to acquire an RSPO trademark license. In principle, you can acquire one license at company (RSPO member) level. However, since for each license you need to provide up-to-date information on products covered by the license, you may prefer to request several licenses at a lower level. For example, you could have separate licenses for regional branches, brands or production sites.
  • No, not at this point. The RSPO has waived compensation for all RSPO members until at least 1 July 2012. The RSPO may announce a new compensation schedule for the time after that.
  • You can request a license through a web form, a link to which is in the RSPO's online Market Center (www.rspo.info/market). The RSPO will review the application, during which more information may be asked. On approval, the RSPO will send you a License Agreement to be completed and signed. If applicable, you will be requested to pay the trademark license fee. Upon receipt, a numbered trademark license (pdf) and digital artwork files will be sent to the e-mail-address provided. You are encouraged to publish the license on your corporate, brand- or product-related website(s). The RSPO will maintain a publicly accessible database of trademark licenses.
  • It depends. On-product communication (packages, labels) is covered by the manufacturer's trademark license. However, if you create about-product communications under the retailer company or brand name, e.g. in flyers, brochures or magazines, you need a trademark license yourself as well.
  • No, unless you have received written approval for non-commercial use of the trademark from the RSPO Communications office or someone acting on their behalf.

Questions about getting and using RSPO trademark image files
  • No, you can not. You need a trademark license and original trademark image files to use the trademark. You will receive image files once you have returned a signed License Agreement. Unauthorized use of the trademark can be made public and could lead to legal action.
  • You will receive image files once you have returned a signed License Agreement. The image files will contain all variations allowed with the RSPO supply chain system you use. The process to acquire a license and image files can be initiated through a web form at www.rspo.info/market. In case you already have a trademark license but just need new or additional image files, you can e-mail to trademark@rspo.org and mention your license number.

Questions about RSPO trademark graphic design rules
  • No, you can not, apart from resizing the entire images and adding the trademark license number.
  • Yes, you do. In product-related communication, the RSPO trademark can not be shown without the correct trademark license number. It must be shown immediately under or next to the trademark or the 'statement'. Font type must be Calibri, font size must be at least 7pt (2.4 mm or 7/22 inch).
  • No. As long as you abide by all RSPO rules, you do not need to submit artwork. Do note however that all artwork will be reviewed during annual audits that are part of the supply chain certification process. Any rule breaches will be reported to the RSPO at that time. Communications in which the Rules on Communication and Claims are not followed correctly will be treated as 'unauthorized'. In case of questions or doubts about the correct application of rules, you should consult the Rules on Communications & Claims, the Frequently Asked Questions and/or the online Market Center (www.rspo.info/market). You may also contact trademark@rspo.org.
  • In on-pack communications, the RSPO trademark can be printed anywhere on the pack. You can add the respective 'statement' elsewhere on the same pack.
  • Applying product-related communication is voluntary. However, IF you apply consumer-facing product-related communications, THEN you must include the RSPO trademark where possible. In on-pack communications, the RSPO trademark can be printed anywhere on the pack. You can add the respective 'statement' elsewhere on the same pack.
  • No, you can not. At this time the trademark is available in English only. However, its add-ons (the 'tag' and the 'statement') are available in various languages. You are welcome to suggest a translation if no claim in the desired language is available. Please e-mail your suggestions to address trademark@rspo.org. The RSPO will provide final translations and translated image files to you once translations are reviewed and approved.
  • You can use one English-language RSPO trademark (with 'tag' and license number) and add 'statements' in multiple languages.

Questions on GreenPalm Communication Rules
  •   There are 4 key supply chain mechanisms that make for sustainable palm oil: Identity Preserved; Segregated; Mass Balance & GreenPalm certificates.
      GreenPalm certificate trading has paved the way by opening up markets for sustainable palm oil, with Segregated followed by Mass Balance supply .
      The volume of GreenPalm certificate trading remains a viable and significant mechanism option.

  • The RSPO objective and ambition is for all global palm oil production to be certified as sustainable. If this is accomplished then certificate trading would be redundant.
  • Not at all. Certificate trading has a key role to play, in particular when opening up new geographic markets. With China and India; being the only realistic option for complex derivatives of palm oil; and being an outlet for the vital smallholder sector. Please consider - China and India are the only realistic options for complex derivatives of palm oil. Both these nations provide an outlet that is for the crucial especially for the smallholder sector.
  •   In the short term it is important to RSPO that all certified producers have access to markets for certified sustainable oil, especially if they do not have access to the physical markets (for example not everyone can export to Europe).
      GreenPalm provides financial incentives to all producers,regardless of who or where they are and it is the only supply chain option which provides direct payments to producers from end users.
  •   It is important that all end users support sustainable palm oil production, including those who do not have access to segregated oil.
      GreenPalm provides that access for all end users, regardless of who or where they are located and what derivatives they use.
  • The RSPO is supportive of all supply chain options. We aspire to an entirely certified market. Until that time we expect GreenPalm to continue to play an instrumental role in the promotion of sustainable palm oil.

For more information about  GreenPalm certificate trading, please follow this link to the GreenPalm website: www.GreenPalm.org