When a person applies for a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), they’ll be asked to select at least one International Class (IC) of goods and services associated with their mark to help the USPTO search for possible conflicting registrations. The description in the IC will also determine the scope of protection afforded by the trademark registration.
Taking your time and making an accurate class selection is critical for two reasons:
- Your trademark application could receive an official rejection or objection for choosing the wrong class It can be difficult or sometimes impossible to change it later, as you may only narrow and not broaden the description of goods or services in an application.
There are currently 34 classes of goods and 11 services listed in the USPTO’s trademark identification manual that applicants can choose from. They are as follows (image courtesy of USPTO):
To assist you in determining which class your product or services fall in, you may use the USPTO Identification Manual to see pre-approved descriptions of goods and services along with the corresponding international classification: https://idm-tmng.uspto.gov/id-master-list-public.html
In reviewing the classifications, you may envision your trademark falling into multiple categories — for instance, maybe your trademark covers a processed food that you also consider to be a staple food. Or, maybe you’ve developed a metal pet cage and you are leaning toward class 6, but after a search on the USPTO’s website, you find that you should really be in class 21 (housewares and glass). Or, what if you want your trademark to cover both a good and a service? What should you choose in that instance?
While the USPTO’s search function can help you find examples of similar trademarks to point you in the right direction, you may still feel stuck committing to a final choice. Here are some of the questions we pose to clients to help them navigate towards the best fit:
- Is the trademark meant to represent the company as a whole (say the company’s name) or a single element, such as the logo on a specific product or product line? These classes are not always the same.
- Will your trademark apply to a good, service, or both? This question can get fuzzy; maybe you offer a product through an e-commerce platform. Your focus may be on the product you offer, but the e-commerce site is also a retail service. In this example, you may choose to file for
- Are you choosing a class based on the finished product? While the elements or “ingredients” of your product might fit into another class, you’ll want to look at the end result of what you are trademarking when making a choice (e.g. the sweaters you sell are made of yarn, but they are still classified as clothing in the end).
Again, the choice of a class on a trademark application is not as clear cut as it may seem. If you need assistance putting your application together to ensure that it’s done correctly, we invite you to contact our trademark lawyers at 888-666-0062 to schedule a consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.