If you have ever attempted to register a trademark, you already know that the USPTO trademark application form requires you to identify the trademark class into which your product or service falls. Most people look at the portion of the form that asks for the trademark international class and, not surprisingly, have no idea what that even means. Well, the good news is that the classification system is not really all that difficult to understand once you know how to navigate it.
What is the Trademark Classification System?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) uses what is called the “Nice Classification of Goods and Services.” Basically, this is just a way of classifying goods and services for the sole purpose of US trademark registration. The Nice Classification is the standard used by many countries throughout the world and allows for much greater consistency and coordination between the trademark offices of those countries. It also benefits trademark owners in the United States and abroad because it simplifies and reduces the cost of applying to register their marks in foreign countries. Furthermore, the Nice Classification makes conducting a federal trademark search easier and less time-consuming for a trademark attorney because the search can be narrowed to include only the relevant trademark classes.
How are Products and Services Classified?
The Nice Classification groups all products and services into a few dozen categories. These categories are called “trademark international classes” (or just “trademark classes” for short). Each trademark class is assigned a number and each trademark class comprises particular types of products or services. For example, trademark International Class 25 includes primarily clothing, headwear, and footwear, while International Class 14 covers jewelry, watches, and clocks. Similarly, if a trademark is used in connection with financial planning services, it would fall into Class 36. But, if the same trademark was used for home construction services, it would be classified in International Class 37. You can use the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual (the “ID Manual”) located on the Trademark Office’s website as a guide to determine which trademark class encompasses your products/services.
Trademark Classes and Trademark Registration
When you apply to register your trademark, it often happens that the products/services with which your mark is (or will be) used fall into multiple trademark classes. For instance, a company such as Disney has federally registered its DISNEY trademark in at least a couple of dozen classes because it sells such a wide variety of products and services under the DISNEY name. If you think about all of the DISNEY-branded products in the marketplace (clothing, figurines, toys, food items, jewelry, hair accessories, computer software, cell phone accessories, etc.) and services (theme parks, television programs, films, cruise lines, etc.), you can easily see how a single trademark may be eligible for registration in numerous classes. However, you have to keep in mind that the filing fees you pay to the Trademark Office will depend on the number of trademark international classes in which you want your trademark registered. Each trademark class you choose will substantially increase the overall costs of trademark registration, especially if you are filing on an intent-to-use basis and anticipate that your products/services will not be on the market for a couple of years or more. This is because you also pay Statement of Use and Extension of Time fees based on the number of classes in your application.
If you have any questions or concerns about trademark classes in general, or need to know in which trademark international class your products/services are categorized, please do not hesitate to contact me for a free legal consultation. I hope to hear from you soon!