Carrying out a class search is a critical element of registering a trademark. While trademark classifications are an essential part of the registration process, they can be very hard to understand. The 45 categories contained in the Nice Agreement use generic terms to explain extremely nuanced topics within commerce.

Experts recommend that you start by describing the items that your core business produces. These descriptions need to be clear and precise. Once you have examined the categories and determined which one is the best, then make fringe commercial activities your priority. Protect the property rights that you wish to defend by adding as many trademark categories as required.

Business plans usually encompass a wide range of areas. This is to ensure that the marketplace remains flexible. Make sure that you choose classes carefully, so as to protect the long term goals of your company. Choosing the appropriate trademark class will do more than make it likely to be accepted; it will also strengthen your ability to defend any future infringements.

Finding your class number is simple using an online Trademark Class Search facility.

When applying for your trademark application, your classification choices boil down to how you have defined your services or goods. Once you have this definition finalized, then look for a classification class which encompasses the definition of your business. It's also important to think about any trademark classes which might overlap and also suitably describe your services or goods. Another thing to take into consideration is coordinated classes. The rejection or acceptance of your application will be largely decided by your selection of classification classes.

The first step is to carry out a preliminary search of all existing trademark registrations, as well as pending applications and trademark uses in common law. By doing this, you will ascertain whether the trademark that you want to register has already been taken by someone else. This preliminary search is very important. There are a number of databases that can be searched, but the best one to start with is the USPTO database.

How to Check if Your Trademark is Available

This is done as follows:

  • Visit the USPTO website.
  • From the home page, go to the menu and click on trademarks.
  • Navigate to trademark search.
  • Click to use the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)
  • At this point, you will be able to choose one of a few options. The best one is the third option, which is a free form (or boolean) search.
  • Once you have navigated to the search page, you need to type the trademark in question. As an example, you could type in “SOAP [WM]”. In this case, soap would be your trademark. The “WM” represents the words “Word Mark”.
  • At this point, you may be faced with thousands of similar search results. In this case, you'll need to narrow it down.
  • You can do this by typing in “SOAP [WM]" and adding “035[ic].” 28 The IC here stands for International Class. This should narrow the number of records down considerably.

Essentially, you're trying to find out whether there are any existing marks that could be similar enough to be confused with the one that you want to register.

How to Search for Your Registered Mark

Simply go to the same search page and key in your trademark registration number. Add “RN”, which is the code used by this website for searches specifically related to trademarks that have already been registered. The search results page should display your registered trademark, as well as all relevant information about it.

If your registered trademark consists of a logo, or a combination of words and design elements, then you will need to carry out a design search. In order to do this, you need to return to the search page and click on “design search code manual” in order to get a design code. Once you are on the design search code manual page, you will need to look for each of the elements that make up your logo. There are a number of different categories that you can browse through, but the easiest method is to use the alphabetical index. For example, if your mark includes an image of a phoenix, then go to the “p” section. The code that you need to enter into your search will appear on the right hand side.

If you need help with a class search, 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 companies like Google, Stripe and Twilio.