If you want to trademark a name, logo, tag line, or any other symbol identifying the source of goods or services of your business, it is important to choose a suitable class of goods or services for registering the trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It is essential to know about the basics of trademark classes to ensure you pick the correct one for your trademark or service mark. Incidentally, “trademarks” cover goods, “service marks” cover services. However, they are commonly collectively referred to as trademarks.
What are Trademark Classes?
The USPTO recognizes a good or service associated with a trademark or service mark, respectively, based on its specific class or category. For example, when you see Adidas®, you immediately think of sports apparel goods, or when you see KFC®, you think of restaurant services. If you want to register a trademark, you must select an appropriate class for it. In some cases, a good or service may fall into two or more classes. These classes help the USPTO recognize and differentiate among the thousands of trademarks that are applied for and registered every year.
There are 45 total classes, also known as Nice Classification (NCL). 34 of these classes have been assigned to different goods categories, while the remaining 11 are for services. While all goods and services are bound to fall into one of these classes, each class represents a broad range of products or services that may sometimes seems vague to fit your actual trademark description.
Why are Trademark Classes Important?
The USPTO trademark classification system serves two important functions: First, it provides a guideline to businesses for registering their goods or services. Second, it helps in recognizing potential trademark infringers.
The USPTO is not likely to register a trademark that may appear so similar to an existing registered trademark that it may cause confusion as to the source of the goods/services. For this to happen, it is essential for trademarks to be similar as well. For example, it is possible for Dove® soap and Dove® chocolate to both be registered trademarks since they are unrelated. That is it is highly unlikely for anyone to consider the Dove® soap and Dove® chocolates come from the same source. In such a situation, both trademarks can co-exist because they belong to different classes of goods.
With trademark classes in place, it becomes easy for the USPTO to identify similar trademarked goods and services that are different and have been registered under relevant classes. They also help businesses searching for similar trademarks because they can search in their own class, helping them monitor new application for trademark and recognize any potential infringements.
What Happens If I Select the Wrong Trademark Class?
The USPTO may deny your application for registration if you do not choose an appropriate trademark class for your product or service. Not only may you lose hundreds of dollars in application fees as it is non-refundable, you may have to wait a few months to amend your application to the correct class.
This paragraph is absolutely false. Where did you get this information from???? It can be confusing to select the right category from such a high number of trademark classes. You should consult an experienced intellectual property attorney before you apply for registration under a specific trademark class. Contact Maldjian Law Group LLC today to schedule an initial consultation and discuss your intellectual property needs.