Updated November 26, 2020:

USPTO trademark categories are used to organize products and services into classes. The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) is the federal agency in charge of trademark registration. The USPTO organizes products and services into specific classes or categories. If an individual wants to cover multiple products or services with a trademark and the products and services are in different categories, additional fees must be paid for each additional class.

Trademark Classes

The USPTO uses a list of trademark classes comprising 45 categories – 11 service classes and 34 product classes. These classes help the USPTO keep track of and differentiate the thousands of new trademarks it registers each year. This is essential since the same logo or word can qualify as separate trademarks in different categories.

Trademark Identification Manual

USPTO provides a Trademark ID Manual to allow applicants to use pre-approved descriptions for drafting out the identification of products and services. This manual contains the list of USPTO's trademark classes as well as pre-approved descriptions of the goods and services in each class. The manual is available and searchable online.

For instance, if you search for jewelry, the manual will show all the products and service categories related to that term. The result will show that class 16 houses most jewelry, class 37 is home to ring remounting and sizing, class 6 contains medical identification bracelets, and class 28 is in charge of toy jewelry. It is essential that applicants use the proper terms to designate and describe their products or services; otherwise, it could result in delays and non-substantive.

Using the Trademark Classification System

Trademark owners choose the categories that apply to their mark. Before you can choose the correct category, you must ascertain if the trademark applies to a product or service. It is usually easy to differentiate the two. Products are tangible items that individuals buy from you, while services are activities performed for other individuals.

For example, accounting is classed as a service while furniture is a product; however, there are instances when the delineation isn't really clear.

A good example is a t-shirt. If you produce some t-shirts and sell them, it is classed as goods. If individuals bring their shirts to your firm for custom printing and you perform the task, it is a service. If you do both, (i.e., sell shirts and offer custom printing services) you may have to register separate trademarks for both goods and services. If you own a retail store or website where t-shirts and/or other products are sold, it is a retail service.

Choosing the Right Class

It is essential that you file a trademark application in the proper class. Registering a trademark in a wrong category will result in the cancellation of your application. You should note that all fees paid are non-refundable.

For instance, the USPTO will deny an application that tries to register a trademark for blankets under the “Electronics” category. This is because the product is irrelevant to that class. Therefore, it is essential that you use the right category when applying for a trademark to save time and unnecessary expenditure.

Trademarks for Similar Products/Services

An application may not be approved if there are goods and services that have similar names, are in the same category, and will likely be marketed to the same consumer using similar channels. For instance, the USPTO may reject an application if an applicant wants to register a drug called “Flu Killer” in the Medical class and there is a drug with similar names and properties in that class.

Number of Products/Services

Trademarks cannot be applied to abstract words; they must be attached to specific products or services. Though there are no limits to the number of products and services to be listed in a trademark application, there may be an increase in the filing costs as the number of products/services increases.

Determining the right category for certain products, especially new ones, can be a bit tricky. For instance, it may be difficult to classify an Internet-based grocery ordering and delivery (store-to-home) service. It may require registering in several classes including transportation and storage (Class 39), advertising and business (Class 35), International Classes meats and processed foods (Class 29), and electrical and scientific apparatus (Class 9).

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