Trademark Classes: Which One Fits the Mark You Are Registering For?

You must choose the proper class when applying for trademark registration.

Below, you'll find links to the various trademark classifications used by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"). These classes are used by the USPTO to help differentiate and keep track of the many thousands of new marks that it registers every year. The same word could appropriately be a different trademark in different classes (such as "Fresher" for the Medical Products class, and also "Fresher" for the Food and Drink class). There are 45 classes in all, 34 for products and 11 for services.

How Will You Use the Trademark Classification System?

A trademark owner generally has two reasons to use the classification system, depending on how they answer the following questions.

  • Will the particular choice of class work for registration? When registering a mark, it is important to file the application in the proper class. If you seek to register a mark in the wrong class, your application will be cancelled and your fee will not be refunded. So, getting the classification right during the application process saves time and expense. Review the classes that may be appropriate. Each class Web page contains an extensive list of potential goods or services for that class.
  • Are their conflicting marks within that class? The second common use of the system is to determine whether the specific goods or services associated with conflicting marks are so closely related to each other that they are likely to be marketed in the same channels and sold to the same consumer. This may be important issue if a trademark owner plans to chase a potential infringer (or is being chased).

Navigating the Trademark Class System

It may take a little research to determine the appropriate class in which your product or service best fits. For instance, does a belt made of woven cord belong under Class 22, which includes cordage and fibers? As it turns out, the answer is “no,” because the cord is made into clothing, which belongs in Class 25.

Similarly, if a mark represents a new type of service or product, it may be difficult to decide how to categorize it. For example, if you are running an Internet-based store-to-home grocery ordering and delivery service, you may wish to register in a variety of classes, including International Classes 29 (meats and processed foods), 35 (advertising and business), 9 (electrical and scientific apparatus), and 39 (transportation and storage).

Because goods or services in the same class are usually considered related or competing, the use of the same or similar marks within the same class has a high potential for customer confusion. It’s important to understand that by itself, the fact that two products or services are in the same or different classes does not conclusively establish whether two marks are legally in conflict. Because the international classification system has packed all goods and services into only 45 classes, combining, for example, abrasive cleansers and cosmetics, products within the same class may be marketed in totally different ways so as to avoid customer confusion.

Coordinated Trademark Classes

We have included “coordinated classes” with each class entry. The PTO has grouped the various international classifications into what it calls “coordinated classes.” The PTO considers these classes “related” for the purpose of trademark searching.

List of Classes

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