The trademark classes “tm classes” break down all goods and services into 45 different classes. These classes simplify the registration process and make it easier to identify potential infringement. These are only a few of the benefits of the system.
What are Trademark Classes?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) utilizes trademark classes to distinguish between different types of trademark useage. A trademark application must categorize how a trademark will be used by selecting at least one type of class. These can range from apparel to business services, and in some cases, you may need to register under multiple trademark classes to ensure adequate protection.
Choosing a trademark class shouldn’t be viewed as a minor issue that simply needs a number selected on a trademark application. Your trademark will only be protected in the class or classes in which it’s registered. If your trademark is singularly classified as machinery, for instance, it won’t necessarily prevent someone from registering the trademark for automobile tires. Here are a few examples of identical trademarks that are able to coexist in different classes:
- Delta (faucets) and Delta (airlines)
- Pandora (jewelry) and Pandora (music streaming)
- Graco (baby products) and Graco (industrial)
Each of these pairs share the exact same name, but since they fall under different classes, it’s doubtful that a likelihood of confusion exists. This is also the case for brand logos. Marmot and Motorola have nearly identical M logos. If the two were filed under the same trademark class, it’s highly unlikely that Marmot – which hasn’t existed as long – would have been granted protection for its logo.
Most brands typically fall under multiple trademark classes. This is especially the case if you offer more than one product or service. If you plan on manufacturing t-shirts as a method of promoting your custom guitars and drum sets, for instance, you could file for musical instruments and clothing. You don’t have to file for multiple trademark classes, but by doing so, you’ll broaden and thus strengthen your trademark protection.
Trademark Classes Explained
The need to understand trademark classes isn’t simply related to securing maximum protection. It’s also meant to simplify the registration process – which in turn can save you time and money. Prior to submitting a trademark application, you should perform a trademark search. This allows you to ensure that your trademark won’t be confusingly similar to another. With almost 500,000 U.S. trademark applications filed each hear, a trademark search is becoming increasingly important.
By classifying each trademark into a specific category, the USPTO makes its database far easier to search. When using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), you can narrow your results down by using classes. Keep in mind that an overly narrow search could overlook registered trademarks that may block your application. So a search should include all categories you believe your product or service may fall into.
When explaining trademark classes, it’s also necessary to consider trademark cost. Here are the trademark fees you can expect:
- TEAS Plus: $250
- TEAS Reduced Fee (TEAS RF): $350
- TEAS Regular: $400
For almost every trademark application that we file, we are able to utilize the lower $250 government filing fee. Keep in mind that these fees are per class. This means if you’re filing a TEAS RF application encompassing the apparel and purse classes, your government filing fee will be $700. Filing a trademark for abstract use is also not allowed. Your trademark must either be in use, or you must have a bonafide intent to use it in the near future. While these fees may seem costly, failing to fully protect your trademark rights can be even more damaging if it leads to trademark litigation.
Although application requirements become less strict as fees become higher, every application must meet the minimum filing requirements. If your application fails to do so, it will be rejected. Additionally, you’ll be required to pay an additional fee if you file a TEAS Plus or TEA RF registration without meeting the appropriate requirements.
Trademark Classes List
Your trademark description will need to be more in-depth than a single class heading, but these are the 45 classes of goods and services you get to choose from. A full explanation of each of these categories – along with what qualifies under the classes – can be found here. You can also search your goods or services to see what classes they fall into with suggested descriptions here: Trademark ID Manual.
Classes of Goods
- Class 1: Chemicals
- Class 2: Paints
- Class 3: Cosmetics and Cleaning Preparations
- Class 4: Lubricants and Fuels
- Class 5: Pharmaceuticals
- Class 6: Metal Goods
- Class 7: Machinery
- Class 8: Hand Tools
- Class 9: Electrical and Scientific Apparatus
- Class 10: Medical Apparatus
- Class 11: Environmental Control Apparatus
- Class 12: Vehicles
- Class 13: Firearms
- Class 14: Jewelry
- Class 15 : Musical Instruments
- Class 16: Paper goods and Printed Matter
- Class 17: Rubber Goods
- Class 18: Leather Goods
- Class 19: Nonmetallic Building Materials
- Class 20 : Furniture and Articles not Otherwise Classified
- Class 21: Housewares and Glass
- Class 22: Cordage and Fibers
- Class 23 : Yarns and Threads
- Class 24: Fabrics
- Class 25: Clothing
- Class 26 : Fancy Goods
- Class 27: Floor Coverings
- Class 28 : Toys and Sporting Goods
- Class 29 : Meats and Processed Foods
- Class 30: Staple Foods
- Class 31 : Natural Agricultural Products
- Class 32: Light Beverages
- Class 33 : Wine and Spirits
- Class 34: Smokers’ Articles
Classes of Services
- Class 35: Advertising and Business
- Class 36 : Insurance and Financial
- Class 37: Building Construction and Repair
- Class 38 : Telecommunications
- Class 39: Transportation and storage)
- Class 40 : Treatment of Materials
- Class 41 : Education and Entertainment
- Class 42 : Computer and Scientific
- Class 43 : Hotels and Restaurants
- Class 44 : Medical, Beauty & Agricultural
- Class 45: Personal
Trademark ID Manual
The USPTO keeps a listing of acceptable identifications of goods and services known as the Trademark ID Manual. The manual identifies trademark goods and services descriptions which can be accepted without an examining attorney requesting a differing description. The Trademark ID manual is far more in-depth than the trademark class lists.
The ID Manual is updated every Thursday to maintain the most up-to-date information. By searching the Trademark ID Manual, you’ll receive the in-depth information on trademark classes. This ensures you’ll make an informed decision when choosing the correct class.
If you feel that your product or service doesn’t fit into any category, there’s a chance that you could be correct. Technology is constantly evolving, and recently developed goods and services can hit the market at any point. If you feel a new description is needed, you can create one and it will then be up to the examining attorney whether it is acceptable. This will also mean that you will have to pay the higher $275 per class government filing fee.
Design Search Codes
These codes are six-digit numbers that simplify the classification of design elements of trademarks. While searching for a trademarked word then narrowing by the appropriate class may seem daunting, doing so with design elements can be even more complex.
Consider the fact that Twitter, Nestle, NBC, Hollister and Dove all identify their brand with a bird design. Countless other companies likely do the same. By using design search codes, you can avoid browsing through untold numbers of logos within your trademark class. Even better, you can narrow down your search to the most specific classes. Here are a few categories related to the bird logo example:
- 15.01: Eagles
- 15.05: Turkeys
- 15.07: Owls
- 15.10: Doves
The first two digits are the category number. In this case, 03 signifies “animal” design elements. The second number is the division of that category – 15 signifies “birds and bats.” The final number is the specific identifier (01 for eagles, 05 for turkeys, etc.). You can also query design search codes based on multiple elements of a logo. While these designations aren’t part of the trademark classes list, they serve many of the same categorical functions.
USPTO US Trademark Classes
When searching for trademark classes online, you may also come across lists that are obsolete. In 1973, the United States entered into a treaty which standardized categories across member countries. This nullified the USPTO US trademark classes that were already in use. Prior to this agreement, there were 52 categories listed under “Goods.” An additional eight “Services” categories were also available for use.
To make things even more confusing, there were additional classes based on “Collective Membership” and “Certification Marks.” These old US trademark classes can still be found in the database, but the current classes are automatically generated when you’re filing a trademark application.
Nice Trademark Classes
The Nice Trademark Classes are the current categorizations in use at the USPTO. When America entered the Nice Agreement in 1973, there weren’t even 1 million trademark applications submitted yearly worldwide. By 1993, this number had jumped to nearly 1.6 million. In 2016, it stood at over 3.1 million. This huge increase showcases just how important standardization was – especially when many trademark owners now seek international protection.
There have been several versions and editions of Nice Trademark Classes released. The beginning of 2019 saw the eleventh edition come into force. One of the greatest benefits of the Nice Agreement is the fact that your American trademark can serve as a basis for international registration. Standardization across countries will make this process much simpler. This is essential for those who want to prevent overseas infringement.
Trademark International Classes
The Nice Agreement was beneficial in the world of intellectual property, but it doesn’t cover all trademark international classes. Even though there are nearly 200 countries in the world, less than 90 are members of the treaty. While some non-member nations use the same criteria, it’s still possible that classes may be different in certain countries where you need protection. Canada, for instance, didn’t even sign on until 2017.
When filing for an international trademark, it’s imperative to understand the classification system and trademark laws in each country where you’re filing. The Nice Agreement was an important step in standardizing international trademark classes, but until every country designates the treaty as law, complex issues will continue to occur when seeking foreign protection of your intellectual property rights.
If you have a question about trademark classes or need assistance with filing a trademark application, please contact us today.