What You Need To Know About Trademark IDs
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Bond, James Bond. Both words work together to convey a distinct identity. Just "James" doesn't have the same ring to it. It needs the "Bond." And that's what a trademark ID is. However, few people understand how critical it is for your trademark application. So, we're going to tell you what you need to know about trademark IDs.
Trademarkia's ace trademark attorney, Victoria Velazquez Walker, cannot stress this enough:
"Choosing the appropriate trademark class and class description stands as a pivotal step within the trademark application process. The rights a trademark applicant secures upon successful registration hinge directly upon the chosen class and its corresponding description.
Should these elements be improperly selected or inadequately described, the applicant may encounter difficulties in obtaining registration or risk a registration that falls short in safeguarding their business interests. This underscores the importance of seeking guidance from a qualified trademark attorney, ensuring a robust and protective registration process."
So, let's dive deeper into trademark law to understand what trademark IDs and classes are all about.
What is a trademark class?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a trademark as “any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services.”
The USPTO requires every trademark to be categorized in two related, but not identical, ways.
First is the trademark class, a series of 45 "buckets" into which various goods and services fall. These classes are used to organize goods and services in applications, determine the correct fees, and form a database for registered and pending trademarks that can be easily searched.
Each category of goods or services is assigned a number from 1 to 45. This is also known as an international class.
Here are some examples of the various classes:
- Class 1: Chemical products include chemicals used in industry, science, photography, agriculture, horticulture, and forestry
- Class 9: Electrical and scientific apparatus, including downloadable media and computer hardware and software
- Class 15: Musical instrument products that include musical instruments
- Class 25: Clothing and apparel products that include clothing, footwear, and headgear.
What is a trademark ID?
Second, and just as important, is the trademark ID. This is the explicit description of what precisely the mark is for. It adds a layer of detail to the product classification to make it more specific within a given class.
The Trademark Next Generation ID Manual is a USPTO database search tool. The USPTO Trademark Identification Manual helps applicants find detailed descriptions for identifying goods and services.
You can use the trademark ID manual to find all the acceptable identification of class and the subcategories under which your product or service could fit. The trademark ID manual is helpful, especially when you don't have very particular search criteria. But also, make sure to take a look at how to use the tool to avoid overly broad search results.
The USPTO guide to using the ID manual includes detailed information on:
- conducting searches
- how to select search terms and search queries
- refine search results for your desired search term.
Distinction between classes and IDs
Remember that the USPTO is very particular about applicants correctly specifying precisely what their goods and services are. That means your application should include the trademark class and the trademark ID.
For example, you cannot simply file a product under "Class 009: Downloadable software." Instead, the filing must actually identify the function of the software. It should be “Class 009: Downloadable software for designing financial models.”
So, Class 009 is the class, and "Downloadable software for designing financial models" is the ID.
Proof of use
Although the USPTO claims that trademark classes are a purely "procedural" categorization system, they're essential when providing Proof of Use of a mark in commerce.
Proof of Use is evidence that shows that the mark is being used for commercial purposes. This is done to prevent people with more means from hoarding trademarks.
But you only need to provide Proof of Use for the distinct items in the ID. For example, a filing in "Class 9: Downloadable software for designing financial models; Sunglasses" need only show Proof of Use of the financial software or the sunglasses, not both.
A word of caution
That said, it's not a good idea to file a "kitchen sink" application that contains every item you can think of in a given class. Just because you're selling one item in that class and can, therefore, technically receive the mark on that basis doesn't mean you need one.
That's because such a mark would be considered fraudulently filed. This technically voids the application. The USPTO usually doesn't investigate this and would proceed as long as Proof of Use is provided on at least one item in that class.
However, if a third party brings it to the USPTO's notice, they could use it as leverage in a cancellation proceeding against your mark. This threat will loom over your mark for its lifetime. And it's not a risk worth taking just to cover goods that you aren't selling anyway.
The surest way to avoid inadvertently making any of these missteps is to hire a trademark attorney to file your trademark application with the USPTO. The legal services trademark attorneys offer nowadays include online trademark filing and answering office actions so you can be sure your trademark application has all the help it can get.
Also, remember that every trademark filing that your attorneys do on your behalf contains a statement of the accuracy of the ID. Make sure you have your facts straight. Your attorneys cannot file an ID that they know to be false, nor can they effectively defend a filing they find out was fraudulent on your part.
Therefore, when helping your attorneys draft your applications, remember — keep it simple, keep it complete, keep it honest, and you should have smooth sailing.
Can two trademarks be in the same class?
There's bound to be confusion when trademark names of different business entities are identical or sound similar in the same class. But, if the names are spelled differently, they can be in the same class without conflict.
Can I use one trademark for different products?
Your trademark isn't limited to one good or service. It can be used with many different goods or services as long as it's filed in the right trademark classes and with the right trademark IDs in your trademark application.
What is the cost of adding another class to a trademark?
Two initial application filing options exist: TEAS Plus, which is $250 per class of goods/services. And there's TEAS Standard, which is $350 per class of goods/services.
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Amrusha is a versatile professional with over 12 years of experience in journalism, broadcast news production, and media consulting. Her impressive career includes collaborating extensively with prominent global enterprises. She garnered recognition for her exceptional work in producing acclaimed shows for Bloomberg, a renowned business news network. Notably, these shows have been incorporated into the esteemed curriculum of Harvard Business School. Amrusha's expertise also encompassed a 4-year tenure as a consultant at Omidyar Network, a leading global impact investing firm. In addition, she played a pivotal role in the launch and content strategy management of the startup Live History India.
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