What is a Trademark Class?
A Trademark Class is also known as an International Class. The various International Classes are set by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The current classes are described in the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks (10th ed. 2011).
Trademarks are used to identify a source of goods and services. Trademark Classes classify the goods and services. The classes provide general indications that indicate the types of goods and services covered by the trademark. One purpose of the classes is to help organize trademarks and help make trademark searches more manageable.
A single trademark can identify multiple types of goods and services within the same class. However, the applicant will need to pay a fee for each Trademark Class. For example, Class 25 is classified as clothing, footwear, headgear. For one fee you can file a Class 25 mark that covers t-shirts, sweatshirts, pants, and hats. However, if you also wanted to sell backbacks using the same mark, you would have to pay an additional fee because backpacks are in Class 18.
Trademark Classes make the task of searching for similar marks easier. If someone else uses the same mark that you want to use, you only need to be concerned about likelihood of confusion if the mark is used in the same class as your goods/services. This helps cut down the amount of work on a trademark search considerably. Even if someone uses the same mark as you in the same class, you should be able get your mark allowed if the goods and services are different. A good Trademark Attorney can help you navigate these distinctions.
There is also a distinction between goods and services. Some classes relate to goods (Classes 1-34) and some classes relate to services (Classes 35-45). Depending on how you use your mark, you might want to file the same mark for the goods you sell and a related service. For example, you might sell a computer program, which would be covered under Class 9. However, you might also offer a service by providing custom computer programs to different businesses. This could be a considered a design and development service (class 42). Each class requires a separate fee.
Getting the correct class is important. Your application can be denied (the fees to the USPTO are non-refundable) if your goods are filed under the wrong class. We have seen many clients try to file for their own trademark, then end up needing to abandon the application, then re-file. Getting the filing done properly in the first place is where a good Trademark Attorney can help.
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