What exactly is a trademark class? Trademark classes allow for the identification of goods and services. Additionally, they allow multiple business to apply for a trademark to identify their goods and services (as long as they are not in the same class). For instance. a construction company could apply for a trademark for “Mud” to cover construction related goods/services. A cosmetic company could also apply for the “Mud” trademark to cover cosmetic goods.
Why is that you may ask? Trademarks are actually designed to protect the consuming public, not the brand owners. One of the main tests for trademark infringement is “likelihood of consumer confusion.” So, the different classes help promote commerce while protecting the consuming public from knock-offs.
In the example above, it is highly unlikely that someone shopping for Mud cosmetics would be confused by the same Mud mark used at Home Depot. So using classes helps sort all of this confusion out.
Prior to the adoption of the International Classification in 1973, the United States used its own classification system. Since that time, the United States Classification became a secondary classification system. United States classes are still assigned to all applications by a computerized system. Each international class is coordinated with the United States classes that are most frequently associated with it. Neither examining attorneys nor any other USPTO personnel have the authority or capability of altering these automatically assigned secondary United States Classification designations.
So the U.S. system is still used, but rarely does it apply in legal matters.
The Nice Classification (NCL) is the international classification (IC) of goods and services that is currently used for the registration of trademarks and service marks. Under this system, used by all signatory countries, goods classifications run from classes IC 1-34, and Services are in IC 35-45.
How Can I Help?
The USPTO has a list of all the goods and service that are available for brand owners to use in protecting themselves. Although it seems simple enough, there are many complications that can arise while applying for a trademark registration. If you, or someone you know needs help to file a trademark, or help to defend against an infringer, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +