What are trademark classes and why should I care?

If you plan to file a trademark application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) or most any foreign trademark office, it helps to understand the nature and significance of trademark classes.

Trademarks are not owned for everything under the sun; they cover specific goods and services.  And those specific goods and services are categorized by trademark class.  Eighty-four countries (including the U.S.) have signed on to the Nice Agreement where they have agreed to share a classification system for goods and services in registering trademarks and service marks.  In other words, when you file a trademark application in the U.S. or any of the member countries to the Nice Agreement (which include the European Union, Canada, China, Japan, and Mexico to name a few), you will need to indicate the trademark classes to which your trademark applies.  Significantly, trademark application fees in each of these places will be determined by the number of classes covered.

There are forty-five trademark classes, with Classes 1-34 covering goods and Classes 35-45 covering services.  A complete listing of trademark classes is available at the World Intellectual Property Organization's website (located at www.wipo.int/classifications/en/index.html).  Beyond the proper classification of the goods and/or services covered by your trademark, each country’s trademark office has particular rules regarding the specific wording of descriptions of goods and services.  It is important to understand these factors before spending money on a trademark application.

For more discussion of which trademark classes might apply to your trademark, click here.