Why do Trademark Classifications Matter?


Correctly identifying the classification of your company’s particular goods and services is arguably the most critical part of your trademark application. A failure to correctly identify the goods and services for which you will use your trademark may result in a rejection of your application and a failure to register your trademark. The United States Patent and Trademark Office will not refund your registration fees if your application is rejected, so this can be a costly mistake.

Currently, the USPTO charges a nonrefundable application fee of $325 for each class that you apply under. When you submit a trademark application, you must provide a drawing of the mark as well as a specimen. A specimen demonstrates how the mark identifies that particular good or service in commerce. Within each registration class you apply for, you must list each particular item that your company intends to sell. For example, if you are applying for a trademark in class #25, clothing, you must list what kind of clothing you plan to sell, i.e., skirts, shorts, t-shirts, etc. After your application is submitted, your application will be reviewed by a USPTO attorney, who will ensure that there are no registered or unregistered trademarks that conflict with your application. It is important to perform due diligence to ensure that there are no existing trademarks that conflict with your application. As mistakes in a trademark application can be costly, it is advisable to consult a qualified trademark attorney to assist with this process.

In a video explaining goods and services classification on the USPTO website, understanding classification of goods and services is broken down quite simply. The question here is “what do your customers actually purchase from you”? If they purchase a tangible product, your company is in the business of selling goods, and you will need to select the appropriate goods classification for your mark. If your company is hired to perform specific activities, your company is engaged in providing services, and you will need to choose the appropriate service mark to fit your business.

Essentially, goods are things that bear your trademark and services are the activities your company performs. You can research the current acceptable classifications of goods and services for your trademark application using the USPTO’s Trademark ID Manual. If the goods or services classification that best describes your product is not in the Trademark ID Manual, you are able to utilize space in your application to write in an accurate description of your goods or services. It must be stressed again that getting the classification close is not acceptable to the USPTO. You must ensure that your description of your company’s product is entirely accurate, otherwise this can cause major problems with your application, possibly preventing the registration of your trademark. You must ensure that your application specifies the actual goods with which your mark is used, or the actual services with which your mark is used (or intend to use).

Accurately classifying your trademark can be a complex process. Make no mistake, trademark classifications matter. As mentioned above, accuracy on this portion of the application is vital to the successful registration of your mark. An intellectual property attorney can assist you with every step of the trademark application process, and ensure your application is submitted correctly.