Trademarks are associated with a product or service, and products and services are distinguished by “Class Codes” which designate high-level categories that a particular product or service falls into.
There are 45 classes, or categories, that cover all goods and services. Classes 1-34 are for goods, classes 35-45 are for services. Each class can cover a wide range of goods or services. For example, class 25 covers clothing and class 36 covers all insurance and financial services.
You can search the USPTO’s class code database to see what class codes apply to your particular products and/or services.
Trademarks are priced by class code. If you have two (2) class codes, you effectively double the price. If you have three (3) class codes, you’ve effectively tripled the price.
The question we get a lot, therefore, is what are the pros/cons to adding additional class codes when applying for a trademark? When you get a trademark, doesn’t it protect against anyone trying to use your trademark, so why pay for more class codes?
Those are two very different questions, although related. I’ll answer the last question, first.
When you get a trademark, doesn’t it protect against anyone trying to use your trademark, so why pay for more class codes?
The question of whether someone infringes a trademark is based on whether there is a “likelihood of confusion,” a legal test that is worthy of a long knowledge base article all by itself. One of the tests for a likelihood of confusion is how similar (not same) the products or services are, that are associated with the trademark. Coffee and donuts are considered similar. Consulting services and educational services could be considered similar. Baking bakes and manufacturing computers would be considered dissimilar.
So, can someone use the same (or similar) trademark for dissimilar products or services? Probably, assuming the other elements of likelihood of confusion are present.
Therefore, the answer to the question, doesn’t a trademark protect against anyone trying to use your trademark, depends on the similarity of the products or services associated with the trademark, and class codes helps in this assessment.
What are the pros/cons to adding additional class codes when applying for a trademark?
Given that trademarks are associated with products and services, and that class codes are used to identify a trademark’s association with products or services, then a trademark is said to have more “coverage” or “protection” with more class codes.
- More expensive.
- More protection for your trademark
- Prevents others from using a similar mark as your trademark for similar products or services, in the class codes you’ve included in your trademark application
- Importantly, adding another class code improves the chances of getting your trademark approved by the USPTO
This last point is an important one to consider: Trademarks are approved based on a very complicated analysis, but one of the factors is similarity to other marks that are similar to your product or service. With additional class codes, you have a greater chance of your trademark ultimately being approved.