Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual: What Is It?

The Acceptable Identification of Goods and Service Manual is the guide put out by the United States Patent and Trademark Office or USPTO that describes the appropriate terms to use when describing goods and services on a trademark application that is filed with the USPTO.

Acceptable identification of goods and services is part of the trademark application process through the USPTO. The section requires the applicant to describe any goods and services that are being registered with clear or concise language.

Though the list given in the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual isn't exhaustive, it is more extensive than the alphabetical list that's given under the Nice Classification.

The Acceptable Identification of Goods and Service Manual is intended to be a guide in preparing trademark applications.

Why Is Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Important?

This section is vitally important for anyone who is trying to register a trademark with the USPTO, because it is how the USPTO examiner will compare your goods and services with other registered trademarks and trademark application to decide if yours is worth trademark approval.

Proper identification of your goods and services can make the difference between receiving trademark approval and denial of your trademark application.

If your trademark application is denied on the grounds that your goods and services aren't properly described or some goods or services aren't included on the application, the application will be returned along with the application fee.

It's very common for trademark applications to be rejected because of the misidentification of goods and services in this section.

USPTO Comparison of Goods and Services

The USPTO will make comparisons in two types of situations. The comparison will depend upon your intent with your trademark.

Commerce: In this type of comparison, the USPTO will look at if the trademark is already in use in commerce or in connection with the goods or services listed.

Intent to Use: You must have a legitimate intention to use the mark in commerce or in connection with all of the goods and services that are listed on the application. This includes in international markets.

Once your trademark application has been submitted, the identification of goods and services section can be amended by narrowing the scope and clarity until it is published, but nothing can be added.

How to Make Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services

When an applicant is identifying their goods and services on their trademark application, it's important for them to use clear, concise terms to describe the items.

If any recognizable goods aren't described in this section, the USPTO will return your application and refund your application fee.

For clarity on what terms are acceptable, see the USPTO's "Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual."

The Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual is very useful in helping trademark applicants to understand what language is appropriate for describing their goods and services and will be most likely to get them approval of their trademark.

The Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual also lays out the proper punctuation that is necessary to describe and differentiate each of the different goods and services.

Commas are used:

  • Within a category of goods to separate related items

  • Before and after "namely"

  • Between each item that is in a list of goods that follows "namely"

Semicolons are used:

  • To separate distinct categories of goods within an international class

General guidelines for the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual are that it must:

  • Be written in English.

  • Give a description of the goods or services in a way that an English speaker could understand what is being described, even if the grammar and punctuation aren't perfect.

  • Meet the standards that are set forth in the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual. This doesn't necessarily mean the language.

    • This might include the standard that parentheses and brackets aren't to be used.

  • Not be a class heading.

  • Be labeled as the correct class.

  • Be definite, clear, accurate, specific, and concise.

The Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual also gives a list of terms that should be avoided when describing goods and services on a trademark application. This includes:

  • Words that aren't necessary for the description to be understood should be removed and avoided.

  • Technical languages

  • Lengthy descriptions of characteristics or uses that don't apply

  • The proposed mark

  • Other marks that are already registered as trademarks

If terms such as "accessories," "components," "devices," "equipment," "materials," "parts," "systems" or "products," are used, they  must be followed by "namely." This must be followed by a list of the specific goods identified by more common or generic names.

If terms such as "services in connection with," "such as," "including," "and like services," "systems," "products," "concepts," or "not limited to," are used, it must be followed by "namely" and then followed by the more generic or common terms.

Identification of Goods and Services Is Not Everything

It's important to note that even though the acceptable identification of goods and services is very important when submitting a trademark application and hoping for approval, but it is not the only important aspect of the application.

It is also important that the trademark application makes clear how the goods and services will be used. If you're applying for a trademark but have no intention of using the trademarked products, it's likely that your trademark application will be denied.

If goods or services are identified in the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual with a letter "T," it means that the identification is acceptable to the USPTO and other foreign trademark offices. This includes:

  • The Japanese Patent Office or JPO

  • The European Trademark Office, OHIM or the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market

  • The Korean Intellectual Property Office or KIPO

  • The State Administration for Industry and Commerce or SAIC of the People's Republic of China

Changing the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual

The Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual is a dynamic document that continues to change and be updated.

Viewing New Entries to the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual

The Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual is updated every Thursday. If you're viewing the manual and want to know what entries have been added since your last viewing, it's easy to search for a year, month, day, or week.

Adding an Entry to Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual

If you believe that there is something missing from the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual, it's possible to request that an entry be added.

To make a request, send your suggestions to TMIDSUGGEST@uspto.gov.

Proposals may be accepted as written, changed, or rejected. If you receive a notice that your suggestion was rejected, it's possible to update the language of your suggestion and resubmit it.

Submitting language here can be a good test run for if the language you use on your trademark application will be accepted. This email is not a place for long discussions, however.

45 Nice Classes of Acceptable Goods and Services

In addition to the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual, there are also the 45 Nice classes for sorting goods and services. The Nice classes are named after the city in France, where the classes were negotiated in 1957.

Importance of Selecting Classes for Goods and Services

If you've already created a great description of your goods and services, choosing a class may seem repetitive, but it is required.

The classes are important because this is how the USPTO charges you for your application. The goods and services are divided into 45 different classes. Each class will require a different amount of work for the USPTO to review and process and therefore is charged at a different price.

Directly from the WIPO website, the classes include:

GOODS

  • Class 1: (Chemicals) Chemicals that might be used in industry, science, and photography, as well as in agriculture, horticulture, and forestry; unprocessed artificial resins, unprocessed plastics; manures; fire extinguishing compositions; tempering and soldering preparations; chemical substances for preserving foodstuffs; tanning substances; adhesives used in industry.

  • Class 2: (Paints) Paints, varnishes, lacquers; preservatives against rust and against deterioration of wood; colorants; mordants; raw natural resins; metals in foil and powder form for painters, decorators, printers, and artists. Explanatory note: This class includes mainly paints, colorants, and preparations used for the protection against corrosion. Includes, in particular: paints, varnishes, and lacquers for industry, handicrafts, and arts; dyestuffs for clothing; colorants for foodstuffs and beverages.

  • Class 3: (Cosmetics and Cleaning Preparations) Bleaching preparations and other substances for laundry use; cleaning, polishing, scouring, and abrasive preparations; soaps; perfumery, essential oils, cosmetics, hair lotions; dentifrices.

  • Class 4: (Lubricants and Fuels) Industrial oils and greases; lubricants; dust absorbing, wetting and binding compositions; fuels (including motor spirit) and illuminants; candles, wicks.

  • Class 5: (Pharmaceuticals) Pharmaceutical, veterinary, and sanitary preparations; dietetic substances adapted for medical use, food for babies; plasters, materials for dressings; material for stopping teeth, dental wax; disinfectants; preparations for destroying vermin; fungicides, herbicides.

  • Class 6: (Metal Goods) Common metals and their alloys; metal building materials; transportable buildings of metal; materials of metal for railway tracks; non-electric cables and wires of common metal; ironmongery, small items of metal hardware; pipes and tubes of metal; safes; goods of common metal not included in other classes; ores.

  • Class 7: (Machinery) Machines and machine tools; motors and engines (except for land vehicles); machine coupling and transmission components (except for land vehicles); agricultural implements other than hand-operated; incubators for eggs.

  • Class 8: (Hand Tools) Hand tools and implements (hand-operated); cutlery; side arms; razors.

  • Class 9: (Electrical and Scientific Apparatus) Scientific, nautical, surveying, electric, photographic, cinematographic, optical, weighing, measuring, signaling, checking (supervision), lifesaving and teaching apparatus and instruments; apparatus for recording, transmission or reproduction of sound or images; magnetic data carriers, recording discs; automatic vending machines and mechanisms for coin-operated apparatus; cash registers, calculating machines, data processing equipment and computers; fire-extinguishing apparatus.

  • Class 10: (Medical Apparatus) Surgical, medical, dental, and veterinary apparatus and instruments, artificial limbs, eyes, and teeth; orthopedic articles; suture materials.

  • Class 11: (Environmental Control Apparatus) Apparatus for lighting, heating, steam generating, cooking, refrigerating, drying, ventilating, water supply, and sanitary purposes.

  • Class 12: (Vehicles) Vehicles; apparatus for locomotion by land, air, or water.

  • Class 13: (Firearms) Firearms; ammunition and projectiles; explosives; fireworks.

  • Class 14: (Jewelry) Precious metals and their alloys and goods in precious metals or coated therewith, not included in other classes; jewelry, precious stones; horological and chronometric instruments.

  • Class 15: (Musical Instruments) 

  • Class 16: (Paper Goods and Printed Matter) Paper, cardboard, and goods made from these materials, not included in other classes; printed matter; bookbinding material; photographs; stationery; adhesives for stationery or household purposes; artists' materials; paint brushes; typewriters and office requisites (except furniture); instructional and teaching material (except apparatus); plastic materials for packaging (not included in other classes); playing cards; printers' type; printing blocks.

  • Class 17: (Rubber Goods) Rubber, gutta-percha, gum, asbestos, mica and goods made from these materials and not included in other classes; plastics in extruded form for use in manufacture; packing, stopping, and insulating materials; flexible pipes, not of metal.

  • Class 18: (Leather Goods) Leather and imitations of leather, and goods made of these materials and not included in other classes; animal skins, hides; trunks and traveling bags; umbrellas, parasols and walking sticks; whips, harnesses, and saddlery.

  • Class 19: (Nonmetallic Building Materials) Building materials (nonmetallic); nonmetallic rigid pipes for building; asphalt, pitch, and bitumen; nonmetallic transportable buildings; monuments, not of metal.

  • Class 20: (Furniture and Articles Not Otherwise Classified) Furniture, mirrors, picture frames; goods (not included in other classes) of wood, cork, reed, cane, wicker, horn, bone, ivory, whalebone, shell, amber, mother-of-pearl, meerschaum, and substitutes for all these materials, or of plastics.

  • Class 21: (Housewares and Glass) Household or kitchen utensils and containers (not of precious metal or coated therewith); combs and sponges; brushes (except paint brushes); brush-making materials; articles for cleaning purposes; steel wool; unworked or semi-worked glass (except glass used in building); glassware, porcelain and earthenware not included in other classes.

  • Class 22: (Cordage and Fibers) Ropes, string, nets, tents, awnings, tarpaulins, sails, sacks, and bags (not included in other classes); padding and stuffing materials (except of rubber or plastics); raw fibrous textile materials.

  • Class 23: (Yarns and Threads) Yarns and threads, for textile use.

  • Class 24: (Fabrics) Textiles and textile goods, not included in other classes; bed and table covers.

  • Class 25: (Clothing) Clothing, footwear, headgear.

  • Class 26: (Fancy Goods) Lace and embroidery, ribbons and braid; buttons, hooks and eyes, pins and needles; artificial flowers.

  • Class 27: (Floor Coverings) Carpets, rugs, mats and matting, linoleum and other materials for covering existing floors; wall hangings (non-textile).

  • Class 28: (Toys and Sporting Goods) Games and playthings; gymnastic and sporting articles not included in other classes; decorations for Christmas trees.

  • Class 29: (Meats and Processed Foods) Meat, fish, poultry, and game; meat extracts; preserved, dried, and cooked fruits and vegetables; jellies, jams, fruit sauces; eggs, milk, and milk products; edible oils and fats.

  • Class 30: (Staple Foods) Coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, rice, tapioca, sago, artificial coffee; flour and preparations made from cereals, bread, pastry, and confectionery, ices; honey, treacle; yeast, baking powder; salt, mustard; vinegar, sauces (condiments); spices; ice.

  • Class 31: (Natural Agricultural Products) Agricultural, horticultural, and forestry products and grains not included in other classes; living animals; fresh fruits and vegetables; seeds, natural plants, and flowers; foodstuffs for animals, malt.

  • Class 32: (Light Beverages) Beers; mineral and aerated waters and other nonalcoholic drinks; fruit drinks and fruit juices; syrups and other preparations for making beverages.

  • Class 33: (Wine and Spirits) Alcoholic beverages (except beers).

  • Class 34: (Smokers' Articles) Tobacco; smokers' articles; matches.

SERVICES

  • Class 35: (Advertising and Business) Advertising; business management; business administration; office functions.

  • Class 36: (Insurance and Financial) Insurance; financial affairs; monetary affairs; real estate affairs.

  • Class 37: (Building Construction and Repair) Building construction; repair; installation services.

  • Class 38: (Telecommunications)

  • Class 39: (Transportation and Storage) Transport; packaging and storage of goods; travel arrangement.

  • Class 40: (Treatment of Materials) 

  • Class 41: (Education and Entertainment) Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities.

  • Class 42: (Computer, Scientific & Legal) Scientific and technological services and research and design relating thereto: industrial analysis and research services; design and development of computer hardware and software; legal services.

  • Class 43: (Hotels and Restaurants) Services for providing food and drink; temporary accommodations.

  • Class 44: (Medical, Beauty & Agricultural) Medical services; veterinary services; hygienic and beauty care for human beings or animals; agriculture, horticulture, and forestry services.

  • Class 45: (Personal) Personal and social services rendered by others to meet the needs of individuals; security services for the protection of property and individuals.

Drafting Your Own Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services

If you've decided to apply for a trademark, then you'll have to use the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual to create your own description of your goods and services. This can be one of the most difficult parts of a trademark application, but we've put together some tips to make it just a little bit easier.

Use Parts From the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual

If possible, use pieces of description from the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual to describe your goods or services. By using descriptions that are already in the manual, you'll get a feel for the tone used and have some language that you know is guaranteed to be approved. This will help to lower your chances of rejection.

Even if the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual doesn't have exactly what you need, see if you can borrow sections and pieces to combine to make the description that you need.

Don't Repeat the Class Description

When putting together a trademark application it's tempting to speed through and to put the first material that you find, which is often the class description or heading. That won't be enough to make sure that your description gets approved.

Avoid Indefinite Words

Indefinite words leading to a list is something you shouldn't do when writing a description of your goods or services for your trademark application. Indefinite words to avoid include:

  • including

  • comprising

  • such as

  • and the like

  • and similar goods

  • like services

  • etc.

Instead of these indefinite words, you should use a broad term followed by "namely," "consisting of," or "particularly to" and then a list of a specific set of goods or services that fit inside the broad term.

Broad Terminology Can Be Bad

Using broad terminology that could lead someone to interpret that your goods fall into multiple classes could cause objections.

To make sure that your description isn't too broad, thereby forcing it into multiple categories, you can do a search of the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual.

For example, "blankets" would be too broad of a term to describe a good. "Blanket" could fall into multiple classes, such as fire blankets in class 9, electric blankets in class 11, horse blankets in class 18, or bed blankets in class 24. Because of this ambiguity, it's important to qualify the term "blankets" with other descriptors.

If you search your descriptive term and find it fits into multiple categories, then it's time to consider refining your term to be more clearly descriptive of your good.

Your Description Should Be Understandable to the Average Person

The description that you use for your goods or service on your trademark application should be understandable for the average person.

If an average person reads your description, they should be able to understand it and see what you're describing without any specialized or technical knowledge. If terminology from your field must be used, a description of what that specialized term means should be included.

Proper Punctuation Must Be Used

As noted before, the use of punctuation in your description is very important. Make sure to review the rules for using commas and semicolons in your description and to use them properly.

Don't Include Marks That Are Already Trademarked

Just as you can't use your own mark in your description for your trademark application, you can't use other marks that are already trademarked to describe your mark.

If your good or service is designed to work with another product that's already trademarked, you have to describe that product in the same way that you're describing your good or service.

Don't Include Goods That Aren't Sold to the Public

Your description should only include goods or services that you sell or provide to others. For example, if you do marketing for your own business but don't sell to other businesses, the item can't be trademarked.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I alter my description of my goods or services after I file my trademark application?

Yes! You can alter your description by narrowing and refining it. You cannot add anything new to your description. This makes it very important to file your trademark application correctly the first time.

  • Who can use the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual?

Anyone can use the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual. You can access the manual online and use it to help write the description of your good or service for your trademark application.

  • Who can contribute to the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual?

Anyone! If you want to have the language you use to describe your good or service added to the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual as an example, you can send it in. This can also be a nice way to test if your language is correct before submitting a trademark application.

  • Do I need the help of a lawyer to file a trademark application?

Though it isn't necessary to have the help of a lawyer when filing a trademark application, it can be highly beneficial. When you seek the advice and get help from an experienced intellectual property lawyer, they likely already know how to write goods and services descriptions. Having help from a lawyer to prepare your trademark application makes it more likely that your application will be approved the first time that you submit.

If you need help with your trademark application or writing your acceptable identification of goods and services, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.