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In today's fiercely competitive marketplace, protecting your brand is incredibly important and one of the best ways to do that is by registering a trademark. Trademarks give you legal recognition and exclusive rights, which means no one else can use similar marks that might confuse your customers. It's like having a shield that keeps your brand safe and ensures that your customers always know it's you.

When applying for trademark registration, it's important to understand trademark classes and their significance. This article will delve into the world of trademark classes from a UK law perspective, providing the knowledge you need to navigate the process effectively.

What is a trademark class?

Trademark classes are categories or classification systems businesses use to organise and group similar goods and services when registering a trademark. These classes help identify and differentiate products or services in a clear and systematic way. 

The international Nice Classification system forms the basis for trademark classes and it’s recognised globally. Each country’s intellectual property office also differs slightly from the Nice Classification in what it deems an acceptable description of the goods and services. This is where an experienced IP lawyer can help you draft a watertight trademark application.

What are the different classes of trademark?

The Nice Classification system consists of 45 classes, each representing a distinct category of goods or services. These classes are divided into sub-classes, offering a comprehensive framework for classifying trademarks. For example, Class 18 includes sub-classes like leather goods, bags and wallets, while Class 25 covers clothing, footwear and headgear.

Nice classification list

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) publishes the Nice Classification list to clarify the various trademark classes. This list outlines the goods and services covered by each class and sub-class, assisting applicants in selecting the appropriate class for their trademark registration. You should consult this list to ensure accurate classification of your goods or services.

Can I register a trademark in a different class?

Yes, it’s possible to register a trademark in a different class if you offer multiple products or services falling under different classifications. This flexibility allows businesses to protect their brand across various categories. For example, if a company manufactures clothing (Class 25) and leather goods (Class 18), it can file separate trademark applications for each class.

Is it possible to change Nice Classification?

Once a trademark application has been filed, changing the Nice Classification is generally impossible. Therefore, it’s important to select the appropriate class during the filing process carefully. Choosing the wrong class could result in a rejected application or limited protection. Highlighting too broad or indefinite amount of goods and services can be deemed by many IP offices as acting in ‘bad faith’. We recommend seeking legal advice to help you determine the correct class for your goods or services. 

Can two of the same names be trademarked in different classifications?

Yes, two similar or identical names can be trademarked in different classifications, provided there’s no likelihood of confusion among consumers. The principle behind trademark protection is to prevent confusion in the marketplace. If two businesses operate in different industries or offer unrelated products or services, they can both register the same or similar trademarks without infringing on each other's rights.

Trademark registration process

To register a trademark, you need to follow a structured process. Firstly, you must file an application with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in the UK. The application should include details about the mark, the goods or services it will represent and the desired class. The IPO will then examine the application to ensure it meets the requirements, including proper classification.

It's important to note that a filing fee is applicable, and the amount may vary depending on the number of classes selected. As a standard, the more classes you file within, the higher the cost. You should consult the IPO's website or seek legal advice to determine the appropriate fees for your trademark application.

Committee of experts

The Nice Classification system is always evolving to keep pace with technological advancements and consumer behaviour changes. A committee of experts regularly reviews and updates the classification system to ensure its relevance and accuracy. For this reason, you should stay up to date on any changes or revisions to the classification system to ensure your trademarks remain properly classified and protected.

Get legal assistance from LawBite

Understanding trademark classes is important for businesses seeking to protect their brands through trademark registration. By correctly classifying your goods or services, you can establish strong legal protection and prevent others from infringing on your intellectual property.

The Nice Classification system provides a comprehensive framework for classifying goods and services, enabling businesses to navigate the trademark registration process effectively. By following the guidelines outlined in this article and seeking appropriate legal advice, you can secure your brand for success in the marketplace.

Our expert IP lawyers are here to assist you throughout the trademark registration process, ensuring your business is protected and positioned for success. To find out more, book a free 15 minute consultation with one of our lawyers or call us on 020 3808 8314.


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In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

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