Trademark Class 38: Telecommunications Services

Consider registering under Trademark Class 38 if your business will be offering telecommunication services for talk or messaging.

By , Attorney | Updated By Brian Farkas, Attorney

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the federal agency that oversees the registration of federal trademarks, divides marks into 45 different "classes" of goods and services. The purpose of these classes is to allow different types of businesses to register their trademarks into categories most related to their central business. Even trademarks that are identical do not necessarily infringe on one another if they are each registered within different classes. For example, a cell phone company called "HandsFree" would not infringe on a company by the same name that manufactures unicycles for transportation.

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: (1) allow one person to talk to another, (2) transmit messages from one person to another, and (3) place a person in oral or visual communication with another (radio and television). Not surprisingly, Class 38 is particularly important for services used in the diffusion of radio or television programs.

For more information about trademarks and federal registration, see Nolo's articles on Trademark Law. For a complete listing of all goods in Class 38, see below.

The Trademark Class System

Trademark registration is based on a class system, as noted above. 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.

Examples of Trademarks in Class 38

Examples of trademarks in Class 38 include TV JAPAN (broadcast of television programs), DOGPILE (computer telecommunications services), and NEON (cable TV broadcasting services).

However, you would not use Class 38 if you were registering radio advertising services (Class 35 - Advertising and Business Services) or telephone marketing (telemarketing) services (Class 35 - Advertising and Business Services).

Related or "Coordinated" Classes

A coordinated class is one that is related to another class, usually because the PTO has determined that applicants filing within Class 38 often file in the coordinated classes, too. If you are not sure whether you should register in Class 38, you might also consider the following "coordinated" classes: Business Services, Class 36 - Insurance and Financial Services, Class 37 - Construction and Repair Services, Class 39 - Shipping and Travel Services, Class 40 - Materials Treatment Services, Class 41 - Education and Entertainment Services, Class 42 - Science and Technology Services, Class 43 - Food Services, Class 44 - Medical and Veterinary Services, Class 45 - Legal and Security Services.

Providing Specimens for Class 38

A specimen for service must show use of the mark in a manner that would be perceived by potential purchasers as identifying the applicant's services and indicating their source. Where the mark is used in advertising the services, the specimen must show an association between the mark and the services for which registration is sought. A specimen that shows only the mark, with no reference to the services, does not show service mark usage.

When you are offering a service, you have no product to which you can affix a label. Acceptable specimens for services include a variety of materials that can't be used for product marks. This includes scanned copies of advertising and marketing materials, such as newspaper and magazine ads, brochures, billboards, direct mail pieces, and menus (for restaurants).

Letterhead stationery and business cards showing the mark may be used if the services are plainly reflected on them, because the name or symbol being claimed as a mark would, in that context, be used to identify the services provided—that is, as a mark rather than as a trade name. A letter on stationery will even be accepted as a specimen for a service mark if the mark appears and the services are described in the letter.

In cases of services rendered over the Internet, a screen shot of the full Web page should do it. If the mark is being prominently displayed on the home page, so much the better.

The following are unacceptable specimens for marks for Class 38 services:

  • news releases or articles based on news releases
  • documents showing trademark rather than service mark usage (use of the mark in connection with goods rather than services)
  • invoices and similar documents such as packing slips
  • letterhead or business cards that bear only the mark and a company name and address (use of the mark to identify a company, such as on letterhead). As discussed earlier, one exception to this is if the letterhead or the text of the letter identifies the services represented by the mark.

It is also possible to have audio marks. Generally, most marks appear in writing somewhere. But if your mark represents a service, and it appears only on radio ads or in some other audio form, you may submit a sound file of the audio.

Complete Listing of All Goods in Class 38 Based on Taxonomy

  • Telecommunication services, communications by telegrams, information about telecommunication, message sending, news agencies/wire service, satellite transmission, telecommunications routing and junction services, telegraph services, telex services, transmission of telegrams.
  • Broadcasting services, cable television broadcasting, providing telecommunication channels for teleshopping services, radio broadcasting, television broadcasting, wireless broadcasting.
  • Telephone and mobile telephone services, cellular telephone communication, communications by telephone, facsimile transmission, paging services [radio, telephone or other means of electronic communication], teleconferencing services, telephone services, voice mail services.
  • Computer communication and Internet access, communications by computer terminals, communications by fiber [fiber] optic networks, computer aided transmission of messages and images, electronic mail, electronic bulletin board services [telecommunications services], providing telecommunications connections to a global computer network, providing internet chatrooms, providing user access to global computer networks, providing online forums, rental of access time to global computer networks, transmission of greeting cards online, transmission of digital files, videoconferencing services.
  • Access to content, websites and portals, providing access to databases.
  • Provision and rental of telecommunications facilities and equipment, rental of message sending apparatus, rental of facsimile apparatus, rental of modems, rental of telecommunication equipment, rental of telephones.

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