Trademarks are used to help identify where a particular product or service comes from and to provide legal protection for a brand. Through this process, trademarking helps to protect against fraud and counterfeiting. While it is not possible to trademark a specific word or phrase for exclusive use, trademarks protect how something is used. This can also include the use of logos and distinguishes your products. Trademarks are classified into 45 different categories to make it easier to discover infringements.
The system of classifying trademarks serves a wide variety of purposes which we will explore here.
The classification system was created by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as a system to distinguish between different types of trademarks and their usage. When a person or organization applies for a trademark, they must designate the purposes of how it will be used. That includes identifying a minimum of one class to which it can be categorized. This important step is how your trademark is protected because it must be identified in the class that is going to offer its protection. For example, if the trademark is for a jewelry company that classifies it for such use, and then it is used for an automobile company, the trademark will not be protected.
Here are a few examples of where trademarks apply to the same words but in different classes; therefore, they do not infringe on one another:
These are just a few examples of how classifying a trademark plays a vital role in your use of a word, phrase, or image. Because they are in different classes, consumer confusion is likely very low. That’s why there are not more legal cases to address such issues. When trademarks are filed under a specific class, they are compared to others that already exist, and if there is a likelihood of confusion or similarity, they could be denied registration.
When you file for a new trademark, the first step should be to search the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This system allows those applying for trademarks to search specific classes to find any similar uses of words, phrases, or images that resemble what they hope to use. Assuming your trademark is not going to be confused with others that are already registered, you will be able to move forward with your application. There are an estimated 500,000 trademarks applied for each year, so it is important to conduct these types of searches.
Applying for a trademark must be done on one of three types of applications:
The circumstances of your particular filing will determine which you wish to utilize. This can often be discussed with an attorney with experience in filing trademarks. One important part of this discussion should be how many classes you will be applying for. The fees associated with each application are per class, meaning that if you want your trademark protected under three different classes, you will pay the application fee three times.
Applications must identify the classes because trademarks may not be arbitrarily applied for. They must already be in use or there must be intent to use it in the near future. While paying for a filing fee seems costly, the protections it provides can save significant time and money moving forward.
Over the past few decades, the U.S. and the international community used a treaty to categorize trademarks across the multiple countries in the agreement. There are 52 classes under this agreement as opposed to the 45 recognized by the USPTO. The classes themselves are based on a collective membership, and the classes are automatically updated to be sure that the trademark can be protected. If you are looking for an international trademark, a trademark attorney can help guide you through the process.
A: The 45 classes of trademarks can be found in the trademark search located on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. Categories encompass a variety of goods and services, including toys, fabrics, firearms, jewelry, different foods, wine and spirits, vehicles, advertising and business, telecommunications, and much more.
A: While trademarks can be classified by the type of good or service that it provides, they are also categorized into types. The four types include generic, descriptive, suggestive, and arbitrary or fanciful. Each type of trademark reflects the connection the public can make to a term, phrase, or image with a certain product. Generic is the least protected, while arbitrary or fanciful are the most protected.
A: There are many recognizable trademarks for large companies and brands. The three most popular common trademarks are Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. These trademarks are internationally recognized and are considered arbitrary or fanciful, which gives them the greatest protections.
A: There are 45 classes of trademarks in the U.S. A trademark can be listed in more than one class so that it receives protection in each class. An application must be submitted for each class, and the fees for each class must be paid. The classes cover goods and services from nearly every industry and designate what type of good or service it falls under.
When you offer a good or service to consumers, you want people to be able to recognize that good or service so that you can expand the reach of what you offer. Trademarks can help you do that. If you are looking to file a trademark, contact a trusted and experienced attorney from Four Reasons Legal, who can help save time on your trademark registration. Contact us today to get all your trademark questions answered.