In categorizing federal trademarks, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) 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. True, it's an elaborate classification system, but it serves to ensure that companies using the same mark do not actually compete with one another in the minds of consumers, because their products are so different.
Imagine, for example, a brand of vodka called "Sky" and an airline also called "Sky." No reasonable consumer would assume that both products had the same source or origin.
Class 33 includes alcoholic beverages, except for beers. For a complete listing of all goods in Class 33, see below.
For more information about federal registration, see Nolo's articles on Trademark Law.
Consider examples such as SWEET TORITO WINES (wines), TELLURIDE VODKA (vodka), and ADMIRAL NELSON'S (distilled spirits); all marks that fit neatly into Class 33.
If you are not sure whether you should register in Class 33, you might also consider the following "coordinated" classes: Class 5 - Pharmaceuticals, Class 29 - Meat, Fish, Poultry, Class 30 - Coffee, Flour, Bread, Candy, and Rice Products, Class 31 - Grains, Agriculture, Class 32 - Beers and Beverages, Class 35 - Advertising and Business Services, Class 42 - Science and Technology Services, and Class 43 - Food Services .
A coordinated class is one that is related to another class, usually because the PTO has determined that applicants filing within Class 33 often file in these other classes, too.
The trademark class system also plays a significant role in the registration fees that you will pay. For each class of goods or services that you register, you must pay a separate registration 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 33 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 33 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.