Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Explanation of the Trademark International Classification System

Filing a name, logo or slogan is not all about the mark itself but also what you're doing with it, i.e. your goods and/or services. All goods or services are categorized within International Classes (IC hereafter). Goods run from classes IC 1-34, while Services are in IC 35-45. Please see a chart here.

A Bit of History

On September 1, 1973 the USPTO adopted the international classification system as set forth by the Nice Agreement. Prior to that date, the USPTO used their classification system, which was long-winded to say the least.

For instance, let's say you wanted to file a name for clothing, shoes and hats – today you'd file it in 1 class, IC 25 but before 1973 2 classes were filed, 22 & 39. Another example – IC 16 (paper & printed materials) used to be divided across 8 classes, 2, 5, 22, 23, 29, 37, 38, 50. Suffice it to say, the IC system is far easier to wrap your mind around.

What are Goods?

As mentioned before, goods fall into classes 1-34 but what constitutes a good? The easiest way to think about it is to consider if what you're selling is tangible or not. Can you touch it, see it, hear it, wear it, smell it, so on and so forth?

Goods can include items like cosmetics, vitamins, jewelry, backpacks, clothing, cigars, food & beverage items, guitars, chemicals, paints, tools, machines, cars and on and on.

What are Services?

Services fall into classes 35-45 but what is a service? This one tends to be a bit trickier as some services deal with tangible items. One simple way to look at is to bear in mind if you're doing something for someone.

For instance, if you prepare taxes, are a real estate agent, teach something, run a restaurant or a hotel, are a doctor, lawyer, cosmetician then you're offering a service.

Can I be Selling Goods and Services?

Absolutely and these seems to almost always be the case for certain industries. Let me provide a few examples:

1) You have a name that you use for your hair salon as well as an eventual line of hair care products. To trademark the name, you'll want to file in IC 3 (cosmetics and cleaning preparations) as well as IC 44 (medical, beauty & agricultural).

2) You have a name for your retail clothing store where you sell all types of clothing from different designers. Since you are not selling your branded line of clothing, you'd need only to file in IC 35 (advertising & business).

3) You have a name for your line of baked goods, specifically cakes, candies and cookies that you distribute to coffee shops and kiosks. Since another party is selling your goods, you'd need only to file in IC 30 (staple foods).

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