What are Trademark Classes?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has organized products and services according to specific categories or classes. Anyone wishing to register a trademark must do so under the appropriate class. In some cases, you will need to register your trademark in more than one class to cover a single product or service. USPTO classes help keep track of and differentiate between the thousands of new trademarks registered each year. Additional fees are required for each registered class.

There are 45 trademark classes, which are also referred to as Nice Classification (NCL) after the city in France where the first classes were negotiated in 1957. All products and services registered by the USPTO are categorized into one of these classes. Keep in mind, however, that these class headings are too broad to use in your actual trademark description. Plus, international class numbers alone are never acceptable.

Here are the 45 general categories, with 34 goods categories and 11 services categories:

NCL Classes

Class No.

Type

Description of Goods

Class 1

Chemicals

Chemicals 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.

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 and wicks for lighting.

Class 5

Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical and veterinary preparations; sanitary preparations for medical purposes; 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, photographic, cinematographic, optical, weighing, measuring, signaling, checking (supervision), life-saving and teaching apparatus and instruments; apparatus and instruments for conducting, switching, transforming, accumulating, regulating or controlling electricity; 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

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); 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 travelling bags; umbrellas, parasols and walking sticks; whips, harness and saddlery.

Class 19

Nonmetallic Building Materials

Building materials (non-metallic); non-metallic rigid pipes for building; asphalt, pitch and bitumen; non-metallic 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; 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, frozen, dried and cooked fruits and vegetables; jellies, jams, compotes; 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; live 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 non-alcoholic 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.

 

NCL Services

Class No.

Type

Description of 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

Telecommunications.

Class 39

Transportation and storage)

Transport; packaging and storage of goods; travel arrangement.

Class 40

Treatment of Materials

Treatment of materials.

Class 41

Education and Entertainment

Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities.

Class 42

Computer and Scientific

Scientific and technological services and research and design relating thereto; industrial analysis and research services; design and development of computer hardware and software.

Class 43

Hotels and Restaurants

Services for providing food and drink; temporary accommodation.

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

Legal services; security services for the protection of property and individuals; personal and social services rendered by others to meet the needs of individuals.

Why are Trademark Classes Important?

Trademark classes provide an easy way to quickly classify trademarked goods and services. They're also handy when you need to search for similar trademarks because, in most cases, you'll only need to search within your trademark's class.

Classes are also important because they allow trademarks to co-exist. For example, you can buy two kinds of Dove products: chocolate and soap. These are two completely different companies and products even though they share the same name. Both are registered trademarks but they can co-exist because they are two different types of goods. One is a beauty product while the other is food.

Since Dove soap and Dove chocolate are registered to different trademark classes, it's unlikely that any confusion can occur. It's also unlike that anyone would make the mistake of eating a bar of Dove soap thinking it was Dove chocolate.

Reasons to Consider Trademark Classes

When you're preparing to file a trademark registration application, you must determine your trademark's classification. In most cases, your product or service may fall under several classes. If so, you will need to determine which one is the primary class, or file additional applications to register your trademark under each one.

For example, Coors Light is a well-known brand of beer. The Coors Brewing Co. has registered "COORS LIGHT" as text or incorporated into images in 39 different registrations. These include:

  • Class 32 for the "beer."
  • Class 21 for the "beverage glassware, portable coolers, beer steins, bottle openers."
  • Class 25 for "clothing."
  • Class 35 for "lighters."
  • Class 28 for "sporting goods."
  • Class 35 for "promoting public awareness of the need for moderation and responsibility in drinking alcoholic beverages."
  • Class 16 for "paper goods."
  • Class 42 for "computer services."

As you can see, once you fall down the trademark rabbit hole, there are numerous classes you can fall into. The good news is you don't have to register for this many classes, or even more than one if you don't want to. It all comes down to how much trademark protection you want to enjoy.

If you don't have a specific use for your trademark in mind, abstract registration is not permitted. This is actually a good thing since it's meant to discourage competitors from registering great trademarks for no purpose. Even if you're not sure how far your trademark will extend, you can always register it to different classes in the future.

Keep in mind, however, that you will need to pay multiple filing fees for each class and each application will have different requirements. The total amount depends on the selected filing option:

  • TEAS Plus - $225
  • TEAS Regular - $325
  • TEAS Reduced Fee - $275

So, for instance, instead of paying a $275 U.S. Government filing fee for a single class application, you may need to pay $825 to file the entire trademark application. 

Common Mistakes

  • Registering a trademark with the wrong class. One of the most common mistakes is choosing the wrong class when filling out your trademark registration application. Doing so will result in your application being denied. You will need to start over and pay a new application fee. To avoid this mistake, hire an expert trademark lawyer to identify the right classes for your trademark. A lawyer can also write an accurate description of your trademark, helping the process go more smoothly.
  • Ignoring similar trademarks. Searching for any similar trademarks is part of the application process. Just because Dove can be trademarked by two companies for two separate products doesn't mean that you can trademark the same name of a product already on file in your trademark's class. Classes exist to keep trademarks distinct while still allowing for co-existence across the classes.
  • Failing to consider exceptions to the rule. Not every country abides by the international Nice Classification System. One instance is Canada. You will need to research more about Canada's trademark registration system if you plan on applying there.
  • Making assumptions. Class choices are not always obvious, so it's easy to assume your trademark belongs in one class when it would actually fall in another. You may assume you've filled out your trademark application correctly, but that assumption could cost you additional time and money. It's always best to have an expert review your application for any errors.
  • Relying on Class Numbers. Keep in mind that the Nice Classification System changes over time. In fact, there is an update every five years, and the classification agreements can be modified. As such, your class number may change or move from one class to another.
  • Generalizing. Don't rely on the individual class titles when trying to classify your trademark. Trademark classes are much too broad to be captured in a single title, requiring you to research each option carefully.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need to register my trademark?

No. You can establish rights to your trademark based on its commercial use without a registration. Still, having a federal trademark register provides you with extra protections and benefits.

  • How long does it take to register a trademark?

There is no way to tell. Most applicants will receive a filing receipt three weeks after submitting the application. However, the total time to register your trademark can take from one year to several years.

  • How do I register my trademark?

You can fill out the trademark registration application online through the USPTO's Trademark Electronic ApplicationSystem (TEAS).

  • What if I choose the wrong class on my trademark application?

Your application will be denied, and you will need to submit a new one along with a new application fee.

  • How can I check my trademark registration?

After registering your trademark, you can look it up by the registration number provided by the USPTO. You'll also have a search code only given to registered trademarks. When viewing the information, you can read all about your trademark and see how it shows up in the search results.

Ensure that your trademark registration application is done correctly the first time around. Post your legal need and enlist the help of an UpCounsel lawyer and save up to 60 percent over most law firms.