The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), which is the federal agency that oversees the registration of federal trademarks, divides marks into 45 different "classes" of products or services. The purpose of these classes is to allow different types of businesses to register their trademarks into categories most related to their core business. Class 31 includes grains and agricultural, horticultural and forestry products, live animals, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, natural plants, flowers, and foodstuffs for animals. It also includes raw woods, raw cereals, fertilized eggs for hatching, mollusks, and live crustacea.
For a complete listing of all goods in Class 31, see below. For more information about trademarks and federal registration, see Nolo's articles on Trademark law.
Examples of Class 31 marks include CAPITAL BRAND ORGANIC (organic fresh fruits and vegetables), PICNIC IN THE PARK (pet food), ALFA SUPREME (horse feed), and GALLERIA (live plants).
You would not use Class 31 if you were registering:
If you are not sure whether Class 31 is the most appropriate one to register in, you might also consider the following “coordinated” classes: Class 5 - Pharmaceuticals, Class 29 - Meat, Fish, Poultry, Class 30 - Coffee, Flour, Rice, Class 32 - Beers and Beverages, Class 35 - Advertising and Business Services, Class 42 - Science and Technology Services, Class 43 - Food Services , and Class 44 - Medical and Vet Services.
A coordinated class is one that is related to another class, usually because the PTO has determined that applicants filing within Class 31 often file in these other classes, too.
Remember that the trademark class system will also impact your registration fees. For each class of goods or services that you register, you must pay a separate fee. So if you apply for a trademark for posters (Class 16) and shirts (Class 25), you must pay two fees. You must indicate the correct class at the time you are registering a trademark. If you list the incorrect class, you must start the application process over.
Your registrations are restricted to those classes that encompass the goods or services you are already offering (as shown by the specimens you submit) or that you plan to offer (if you are registering on an intent-to-use basis). You may also need information about the class number in order to narrow a search of the PTO's trademark database.
If you are registering a mark that is currently being used in commerce, you must furnish a specimen of the mark as consumers see it. The specimen must show the mark as used on or in connection with the goods in commerce. A trademark specimen should be a label, tag, or container for the goods, or a display associated with the goods. A photocopy or other reproduction of a specimen of the mark as actually used on or in connection with the goods is acceptable.
In most cases, where the trademark is applied to the goods or the containers for the goods in Class 31 by means of labels, a label is an acceptable specimen. Shipping or mailing labels may be accepted if they are affixed to the goods or to the containers for the goods and if proper trademark usage is shown. They are not acceptable if the mark as shown is merely used as a trade name and not as a trademark. An example of this is the use of the term solely as a return address.
Stamping a trademark on the goods, on the container, or on tags or labels attached to the goods or containers, is a proper method of trademark affixation. The trademark may be imprinted in the body of the goods, as with metal stamping; it may be applied by a rubber stamp; or it may be inked on by using a stencil or template. When a trademark is used in this manner, photographs or facsimiles showing the actual stamping or stenciling are acceptable as specimens.
The terminology “applied to the containers for the goods” means applied to any type of commercial packaging that is normal for the particular goods as they move in trade. Thus, a showing of the trademark on the normal commercial package for the particular Class 31 goods is an acceptable specimen. For example, gasoline pumps are normal containers or “packaging” for gasoline.
A specimen showing use of the trademark on a vehicle in which the goods are marketed to the relevant purchasers may constitute use of the mark on a container for the goods, if this is the normal mode of use of a mark for the particular goods.