What Are Trademark Classes?
Trademark classes are used to distinguish your goods and services. They are essentially the formal categories that define the goods and/ services that you want your trademark to be protected for. It is those classes your trademark aims to operate in. For example, if you have a brand as the manufacturer of mirrors, then you would likely register that trademark under class 20 which relates to furniture products.
Selecting a class becomes relevant when you apply to register a trademark. Trademarks should be registered because it protects the integrity of your brand and affords you exclusive rights to use that mark.
Currently, there is a list of 45 classes provided by the International Bureau of Intellectual Property. You need to choose 1 or more classes when filing a trademark application in Australia through IP Australia.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Essentially, classifying trademarks is an administrative housekeeping measure by governments to ensure that it is clear what a certain trademark is registered for and the scope of that trademark. This class system segregates the different goods and services that given trademarks are concerned with. Imposing limits on what a registered trademark can cover, avoiding future disputes.
Also Trademark registration offers exclusive rights to use your trade mark in connection with the goods or services you choose. If you register your trade mark in a class that does not match your business you may end up without the protection you actually need. Indeed, if you apply too widely you can be subject to ‘nonuse’ action.
Protected for the Whole Class?
When you register your trademark you are required to be specific about the goods or services you intend to promote, within that class, by reference to your trademark. For example, class 41 is “education and entertainment services”. If you file your trademark for education services, it will not cover entertainment services on the basis that they are in the same class.
In Australia, you are able to trademark across multiple classes with no limit imposed but the more classes the more expensive it is to file. Thus, assess your businesses needs as you may only require one class if your product or service is specific to one class. However, if you plan on branding several different products then you will likely require multiple classes for protection.
It is more timely and costly to determine the classes your trademark is concerned with when first filing an application. This is because you cannot add more classes of goods or services to the original application once filed. If you decide to expand your trademark to cover more classes, you will have to file a separate application.
Questions to Ask When Applying …
As a trademark is determined by “use”, the class and description you provide will dictate the scope of protection your trademark offers. Thus, it is critical to think carefully before applying and consider the exact purpose of your business.
Before determining your trademark class and filing your application, consider the following:
- What goods or services will your business provide?
- What is the nature of your business?
- What are you known for doing by your customers/clients?
- Where do you acquire your business income?
Also consider the duration of your trademark upon registering.