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US Pallet Manufacturer In Hot Water Over Quality Control Violation

27 Nov 2014

Philadelphia-based Atlas Wood Products, a family-owned industrial wood products manufacturer founded in 1974, has been accused of violating wood quality trademarks and logos, according to a case filed in a U.S. District Court in Eastern Pennsylvania by the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (NeLMA).

In May 2014, NeLMA revoked the company’s right to use its quality-control stamps, but as of late October Atlas Products had not published this fact on its website, the lawsuit claims.

In its suit, NeLMA claimed that the website had outdated information that was misleading to potential customers, who would believe that the company’s wood products had been properly treated.

Actions Requested in Lawsuit

NeLMA is seeking a permanent injunction against the company, with the aim of halting its use of any quality-control logos and stamps. It is also asking that any company records that document sales where the NeLMA trademarks have been used should be seized, all advertisements, wrappers and signs produced by the company that bear the NeLMA trademark should be destroyed and that profits made from any of these misleading sales should be recovered from the company.

Atlas Still Claims It Is Certified

On its website, Atlas Products claims that it is a “certified manufacturer of heat-treated packaging and a certified supplier of heat-treated dunnage for international trade destinations”. As of mid-November, the company did not issue any further details specifying the nature of the certification.

NeLMA Inspection Service

Founded in 1933, NeLMA provides quality-control inspection services to its members. It deals with units constructed wholly or partially of solid wood material, including boxes, skids, pallets and crates. NeLMA was one of the first agencies in the United States to provide inspection services for wood packaging materials relating to quality control and compliance.

The ISPM15 standard approves three types of treatment for wood packaging materials: heat treatment, fumigation with methyl bromide and dielectric heating. These treatments are applied to both hardwoods and softwoods. NeLMA provides inspection services solely for the heat-treatment method of meeting the IPSM15 standard. This treatment heats the wood to a minimum of 56 degrees Celsius (133 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes.

NeLMA licenses companies that can demonstrate their ability to treat lumber correctly to comply with the international standards.

NeLMA’s suit claims that Atlas Products continued to state that it had the right to use the NeLMA certification stamp and counterfeit marks after the certification was revoked. This was an attempt to confuse both national and the international wood products markets into believing that the company’s products complied with NeLMA’s standards.

Accreditation Watch

Certifying agencies in Europe and North America have been quick to revoke their accreditation when any violation of international standards by wood products manufacturers has been discovered. However, employees of businesses that use wooden pallets and other wooden shipping products have to be familiar with the correct certification logos and to be able to recognise counterfeits.

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