[cabfpub] Subject field of Subordinate CAs

Rick Andrews Rick_Andrews at symantec.com
Thu Feb 4 01:29:14 UTC 2016

I'm trying to better understand the difference between trademark and tradename. They're treated differently in the BRs, although they're not defined.

I asked Ben for a reference, and he gave me these from Black's Law Dictionary:

Trade-mark. Generally speaking, a distinctive mark of authenticity, through which the products of particular manufacturers or the vendible commodities of particular merchants may be distinguished from those of others. It may consist in any symbol or in any form of words, but, as its office is to point out distinctively the origin or ownership of the articles to which it is affixed, it follows that no sign or form of words can be appropriated as a valid trade-mark which, from the nature of the fact conveyed by its primary meaning, others may employ with equal truth and with equal right for the same purpose.

The term "trade-mark" includes any word, name, symbol, or device or any combination thereof adopted and used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify his goods and distinguish them from those manufactured or sold by others. (Citation from some other document) Exclusive rights to use a trade-mark are granted by the federal government for twenty-eight years.
Trade-name. Any designation which (a) is adopted and used by person to denominate goods which he markets, or services which he renders, or business which he conducts, or has come to be so used by others, and (b) through its association with such goods, services or business, has acquired a special significance as the name thereof, and (c) the use of which for the purpose stated in (a) is prohibited neither by legislative enactment nor by otherwise defined public policy.

A name used in trade to designate a particular business of certain individuals considered somewhat as an entity, or the place at which a business is located, or of a class of goods, but which is not a technical trade-mark either because not applied or affixed to goods sent into the market or because not capable of exclusive appropriation by anyone as a trade-mark. Trade-names may, or may not, be exclusive. Non-exclusive "trade-names" are names that are publici juris in their primary sense, and which in a secondary sense have come to be understood as indicating the goods or businesses of a particular trader. 

Those definitions seem to imply that a Trade-mark is harder to get, because some jurisdiction must grant exclusive right to it, whereas a Trade-name is just something that the entity adopts.

But in the BRs seems to treat Tradename as more authoritative, equating it to DBA. And that section doesn't allow trademarks, only tradenames. Doesn't a DBA have to be registered in some jurisdiction so that two entities don't use the same DBA? And are these definitions too US-centric? Forgetting my original topic for a moment (Subject field of Subordinate CAs) does anyone else feel that the current BRs use Tradename where they should be using Trademark?


-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Bowen [mailto:pzb at amzn.com] 
Sent: Friday, January 15, 2016 4:03 PM
To: Rick Andrews <Rick_Andrews at symantec.com>
Cc: public at cabforum.org
Subject: Re: [cabfpub] Subject field of Subordinate CAs

> On Jan 15, 2016, at 3:38 PM, Rick Andrews <rick_andrews at symantec.com> wrote:
> We think that the language in BR Section h, which applies to the Subject field of Subordinate CA certificates, is vague and potentially misleading. It currently says:
> The Certificate Subject MUST contain the following:
> -          countryName (OID This field MUST contain the two-letter ISO 3166‐1 country code for the country in which the CA’s place of business is located.
> -          organizationName (OID This field MUST contain the name (or abbreviation thereof), trademark, or other meaningful identifier for the CA, provided that they accurately identify the CA.
> The field MUST NOT contain exclusively a generic designation such as “CA1”.
> The words “meaningful”, “accurately identify” and “generic” are subjective, and we think that allowing the use of a trademark further leads to confusion.
> We were recently approached by a customer who wanted a Subordinate CA certificate that contained one of their trademarks. Even though we were able to verify that they owned the trademark in their country, we felt it was generic and violated the spirit of
> To clarify this section, we’re thinking of proposing a ballot to remove the word “trademark”, and require that the organizationName be vetted in accordance with Section 3.2.2.

I think this is reasonable as long as the name can be that of a Parent Company, Subsidiary Company, or Affiliate in addition to the direct customer (e.g, same as

> However, we see that allows a DBA or Tradename to be used. We may also want to consider removing that from the BRs.

DBA and Tradename are very different from trademarks.  I think it would be a huge disservice to remove these as it would mean many common shops would not be able to use their name, both companies big and small.  If owner runs it as a sole proprietorship, they should be able to use their commonly known store name (registered with the state) rather than their personal name.

> By way of example, suppose a company gets a trademark for the term “Certification Authority” in their country, is that permissible to put in the Subject Organizational Name of an end-entity or Subordinate CA certificate?

Today they would not be allowed to put that in an end-entity certificate unless it was also registered as a tradename or DBA with their secretary of corporations or equivalent.  I agree subjective rules are non-desirable, but I don’t have a strong preference on whether a CA-certificate should be allowed to have O=Certification Authority in the case you mention.

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