By  on April 19, 1994

NEW YORK -- The International Wool Secretariat said Monday that it will begin charging $5,000 a year per mark for the use of the Woolmark and Woolblend marks, effective May 1, 1995.

The move is expected to generate about $15 million per year to promote world wool sales and to provide a sustainable source of income to supplement fluctuating growers' prices, said Danny Neff, director Americas at the Wool Bureau, the North American arm of the IWS.

The Woolmark, a quality-assurance tag used on pure wool products, was introduced by the IWS 30 years ago, while the Woolblend mark, an IWS quality mark for blends of at least 60 percent wool, was introduced in 1972. Up to now, licensees have been able to use them at no cost.

Neff, in an interview at the Wool Bureau offices here, said that late last week the IWS sent out letters to its 8,700 apparel fabric and apparel licensees -- including 700 in the U.S., Canada and Latin America -- informing them of the new fee.

"We've been thinking about a move like this for the past year and a half," said Neff.

"And we're waiting a full year to implement it, as to not take anyone by surprise," he added

The agreement will cover all licensed spinners, weavers, knitters and apparel manufacturers who make their own wool.

Apparel makers may also apply to use the mark for a fee, if the wool it purchases is not from a licensed source. That also applies to retailers who produce wool apparel under private label programs.

Neff said the fee will not be negotiable and will be the same for all users worldwide.

"Most of our licensees recognize the powerful role these trademarks have played in developing their businesses," Neff said, adding that he expects about 500 of the 700 North American apparel licensees to go along with the fee.

"We do expect to lose some of the smaller licensees," Neff said. "However, those that continue to use both the Woolmark and Woolblend marks will be the serious companies that wish to promote wool."

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