Trademark Class 38 includes telecommunication services, specifically services that allow at least one person to communicate with another by a sensory means. Such services include those which:
Not surprisingly, Class 38 is particularly important for services used in the diffusion of radio or television programs.
Specifically, the class includes television broadcasting, telephone communications, video conferencing, providing internet access, and rental of routers and modems.
The following is a more comprehensive list of Class 38 services:
But the class isn't as broad as you might expect. Specifically, you would not use Class 38 if you're applying for:
You can find trademarks that have been applied for or registered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) under Class 38 in the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), an electronic trademark database.
Some well-known examples of Class 38 marks include:
The USPTO, the federal agency that oversees the registration of federal trademarks, divides marks into 45 different classes of products and 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.
The first 34 classes consist of different broad categories of goods. The last 11 classes consist of different broad categories of services.
If you're not sure whether you should apply for your mark under Class 38, you can consider a "coordinated" class. A coordinated class is one that's related to another class, usually because the USPTO has determined that applicants filing within one particular class often file in other specific classes, too.
For Class 38, the USPTO has determined the following classes to be coordinated classes:
The trademark class system will also affect the scope of the registration fees that you pay. The USPTO charges a set filing fee per class of goods or services. So, if you apply for a trademark for posters (Class 16) and shirts (Class 25), you must pay the filing fee for two classes, which is double the filing fee for one class. (37 C.F.R. §2.6(a)(1)(2022).)
Be sure to indicate the correct class at the time you're registering a trademark—if the application doesn't already do so for you. If you list the incorrect class, you must restart the application process, and your filing fees will not be refunded.
Your registration is restricted to those classes that encompass the goods or services you're already offering (as shown by the specimens you submit) or that you plan to offer (if you're registering on an intent-to-use basis).
At some point in the trademark application process, you'll need to supply the USPTO with a specimen. A specimen is a real-world example of how your mark is being used in association with your goods or services. In other words, it's how customers come across your mark as they shop for your goods or services.
If you're applying for a use-in-commerce trademark (you're already using your trademark to sell your goods or services), then you'll submit a specimen with your trademark application. If you're applying for an intent-to-use trademark (you haven't started using your trademark yet but plan to), then you'll submit a specimen after you've already submitted your trademark application once the trademark examiner—the person at the USPTO reviewing your application—requests it from you.
For every class of goods or services, you'll need to submit at least one specimen regardless of how many goods or services are listed under the class. So if you apply for hats, t-shirts, and socks under Class 25, then you'll only need to submit one specimen and you can choose which good to include in your specimen.
(37 C.F.R. §2.34(b)(2)(2022).)
A specimen for a service trademark must show use of the mark in a manner that would be perceived by potential purchasers as identifying the applicant's services and indicating the service's source.
When the mark is used in advertising the services, your specimen must show an association between the mark and the services you're applying for. A specimen that shows only the mark, with no reference to the services, doesn't show service mark usage.
When offering a service, you don't have a product you can put a label on. Instead, your specimen will need to show how your trademark is being used to sell your service. So, your specimen can show how you're using your trademark to promote your services or how your trademark is used in the performance or rendering of your service. (37 C.F.R. §2.56(b)(2)(2022).)
Acceptable specimens for services include a variety of materials that can't be used for product marks. For a service trademark, you can submit specimens that include:
If your services are rendered online, you can use a screenshot of the webpage where the trademark and reference to the services appear. Ideally, the trademark will be displayed in the webpage header, but any prominent showing of the trademark that appears near a description of the services will work. Be sure you include—either on the screenshot or in the application—the website URL and the date you last accessed the webpage. (37 C.F.R. §2.56(c)(2022).)
While most marks appear in writing somewhere, trademarks can also be in audio format. If your mark represents a service, and it appears only on radio ads or in some other audio form, you can submit a sound file of the audio.
The following are unacceptable specimens for service marks:
For more information about trademarks and federal registration, see our section on trademark law.
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