When it comes to giving a business the protection it deserves, one of the first steps is registering for a trademark in the proper trademark class.
This blog post explores what a trademark class is, its importance, how to use the trademark classification system, and when to consult with a trademark attorney.
What is a Trademark Class?
First, let’s take a look at what a trademark class is.
A trademark class in trademark law is simply a category that describes the type of goods or services that the mark can be used in.
For example, a few of the most common trademark classes are Class 25 – Clothing, Class 35 – Advertising and Business, and Class 41 – Education and Entertainment. Each of these classes have specific rules that must be followed when using the mark in commerce.
For instance, a vehicle trademark (class 12) must be used in connection with a vehicle’s sale, maintenance, or repair. In contrast, clothing trademarks must be used on or in connection with the goods, such as headgear, clothes, or footwear, applied in the form of a tag, label, or related packaging.
Importance of Choosing the Right Trademark Class
When considering applying for a trademark, choosing the right trademark class is essential. Determining the proper trademark class for a business is vital because the classes are specific to the industry, meaning goods and services listed in the wrong class may not be entirely protected by intellectual property laws. As such, if the wrong class is chosen, the mark may not be legally eligible for registration.
Additionally, once a person registers for their trademark with a specific class, they won’t be able to add any additional classes to their trademark registration. If the business ventures into a new area, the owner will need to register a new trademark within the new class. Therefore, it is essential to understand which classes would be applicable to a specific type of business and determine the most appropriate trademark class before submitting an application.
The USPTO website offers several tools and resources to help owners decide on a suitable class, such as the USPTO’s Trademark ID Manual, which offers descriptions and examples for each of the 45 classes.
How to use the Trademark Classification System
Choosing the right trademark class is necessary for success when applying for a trademark. Applying for the wrong trademark class can lead to delays or rejection of the application, so it is important to make the right choice. That said, the Trademark Classification System can be a helpful tool for business owners as it will help to narrow down which class or classes the good or service relates to.
Goods Vs. Services
When it comes to choosing a trademark class, there are two main options – the goods classification and the services classification. The goods classification is used for products that can be physically consumed or used in a business. For example, a trademark might be registered as a goods mark for a product such as coffee beans.
On the other hand, the services classification is used for services that cannot be consumed or used in business. For instance, a trademark might be registered as a service mark for an online course.
Generally speaking, a person should choose the class that corresponds with the type of product or service that they’re registering their trademark for. For example, if a company is registering a trademark for coffee beans, they should choose the goods classification. However, if said company is registering a trademark for an online course, they should select the services classification. This is because an online course cannot easily be sold or used in business in the same way that coffee beans can.
So remember: when choosing which trademark classification best suits a product or service, think about how people will use it and whether anyone else is already using that classification for the same type of product or service before making any decisions.
Single Vs. Multiple Classes
Once a business has identified the class that best fits their particular product or service, they must decide whether to register their trademark in a single class or multiple classes. This decision is based on the scope of the product or service offered. For example, suppose a large company manufactures a variety of similar products. In that case, the company may decide to file for a single multi-class trademark to protect all of its related products that fall under multiple classes.
It’s important to consider the location of the target customers when determining which classes are best suited for a product or service. Depending on the international markets a business is targeting, they may need to register their trademark in additional classes. The number of classes registered may also impact the overall cost of the application, which means the more classes a company registers for, the more expensive it will be.
Product Vs. Entire Business
A product trademark is used to identify the specific product that it is associated with, while an entire business trademark is used to identify the company and all of its products.
This means that when to use each type of trademark will depend on the situation.
For example, if an organization only wants to use a product trademark for classifying products, they would use it on the product itself. However, if they want to use an entire business trademark to classify their company as well as all of the company’s products, they would first need to register the mark with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Once registered, the organization can use the mark on all of their marketing materials, websites, and even in their advertising.
Consult With a Trademark Attorney
Trademark classes are an important part of the trademark registration process, as they help avoid potential conflicts and protect a company’s brand identity. It is critical to correctly choose the suitable class for a trademark when registering it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). That’s where a trademark attorney comes in.
A trademark attorney can help organizations choose the right trademark class, but more importantly, trademark attorneys will work with their clients throughout the entire trademarking process – from choosing what to trademark to filing the completed application.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the various classes of trademarks or looking to consult with a trademark attorney to start the trademarking process, contact Michael B Schulman & Associates today.