USPTO ™ Classes & Why They Matter
Determining the appropriate class for your trademark is equally as important as selecting a great business name, logo, and/or trademark.
Here is some basic information about classes:
Trademarks are filed and registered in association with specific products and/or services. There is no “catch-all” trademark. All applications require the brand (usually your business name and/or logo) to identify the “class” you are working under.
The International Classification of Goods and Services (The Nice Classification System) provides 45 different classes. 34 classes cover goods and 11 classes cover services. Classifications are made according to the goods/services your brand offers and the likeness or similarity of the specified class. Here is an excellent resource explaining and listing the different trademark classes.
A registered trademarks provides the owner with legal rights and protection, but these rights are limited to products and services that are included in the trademark application and class. Other people can file and register the same trademark, so long as the trademark falls under a different class with unrelated goods and/or services.
What class should I use?
The descriptions listed under each class are vague but fortunately, the US Trademark ID Manual can assist with class selection. This manual contains the class specific goods and services fall under (and have already been pre-approved by the US Trademark Office). You can enter any product or service and see what class it would belong to. For example, computer software falls under Class 9, jewelry falls under Class 14, bags fall under Class 18, kitchen utensils fall under Class 21, bed linen falls under Class 34, clothing falls under Class 25, etc. Most countries use a similar classification system as the US.
What are related or “coordinated” classes?
When you run a free or comprehensive trademark search, it is important to search for related classes. You can read more about search tips and tricks here. A coordinated class is a class that is related or similar to your class. Searching for coordinated classes becomes important when conducting knockout searches where you are looking for potential conflicts of marks. If your class is found to be coordinated with the trademark class of another registered trademark, the USPTO, a trademark owner, or examining attorney can raise a likelihood of confusion. When there is a likelihood of confusion, your application may be refused or you may end up in a legal battle with another trademark owner.
When thinking about filing under multiple classes, it is important to think about your budget. Each class of products and services come with a Trademark Office Filing Fee (government fees). The more classes you include, the higher the filing fees. At Daly Law, we reduce our legal fees by 50% for each additional class to help keep costs down.
Clients often ask which goods and/or services they should include in their trademark application. This is dependent on your business and the type of filing. If you include certain goods or services in your trademark application that you are not going to sell in the foreseeable future, you may delay the registration process. Meaning, your trademark will not registered until you sell ALL of the products listed in the application or you delete the products you decide not to sell.
On the other hand, including too many products in your trademark application may lead to more objections. Your trademark may have a good chance of achieving registration for certain goods and services, but be problematic for others. Your desire to add a range of products may trigger objectors, or even oppositions from third parties.
These tips are different depending on if you file “in use” or “intent to use”.
We highly recommend our trademark clients complete a comprehensive search and legal review of their mark before filing.
Help! I ran a free search and have concerns.
If you are reading this article after performing a free search and running into potential issues, check the class!
1. What class would my name/logo/brand fall under?
2. Is my class the same as other trademarks with the same name/logo/similar name?
3. Is my class related to the trademark class with the same name/logo/similar name?