While some mailbox providers (e.g. Yahoo, Fastmail) have accepted “self-asserted” BIMI records for a couple of years, some (e.g. Gmail) are requiring Verified Mark Certificates (VMCs) to display BIMI logos. Our understanding is that all of the participating mailbox providers will validate the VMCs if they are present, but each will decided the minimum requirements to display the BIMI logo within their own mail environments. Brands can apply for a VMC for their domain from select Mark Verifying Authorities (MVAs) such as Digicert or Entrust Datacard.  They will issue a VMC for use with BIMI that verifies a specific logo is a valid trademark of the Brand for the domain and can be displayed within email sent from the domain.

The first wave of VMCs to be issued require that the logo be an image registered with a trademark authority that is recognized by the MVAs.  The initial set of countries with recognized trademark authorities include: US, Canada, EU, UK, Germany, Japan, Australia, and Spain. This list will continue to grow as additional trademark authorities around the world are authorized.

While this initial VMC issuance process only covers registered trademarks, the working group is also exploring how to expand the evaluation criteria for BIMI beyond registered trademarks. Some of the plans being considered include:

  • Government logos that aren’t registered trademarks but are defined by legislation or other legally recognized methods that can be verified.
  • Logos that are similar, but slightly altered from the specific form that was registered with the trademark authority.
  • Alternate methods for evaluating logos for use by domains that do not have a registered trademark.

Feedback provided to the BIMI working group by the MVAs and early adopters will define the priority for exploring the best path toward expanding the evaluation criteria beyond trademarks.  As each additional evaluation method will need to be carefully tested before rolling it out, each new process is expected to be run as a separate pilot program.

Our ultimate goal is to encourage secure email best practices.  To achieve that goal, we’ll continue to expand features and support for BIMI so brands can exert control over how their logos are displayed (even when they aren’t registered trademarks).  While companies with trademarks can apply for a VMC now, we also encourage those without registered trademarks to publish “self-asserted” BIMI records.  We look forward to new evaluation processes that support a broader array of logo types.