What is a Trade Mark?

Briefly, a trade mark is a sign which can distinguish your goods/services from those of other traders. This can include: for example, words, logos, colours or a combination.

Very often companies use their trade mark as a marketing tool, not only so that customers recognise their products/services but also because it can be a very valuable asset, and very often products/services which are trademarked are deemed to be reliable and of good quality.   Plus in the event of conflict with other brands and companies your registered trade mark can assist you.

The Trade Mark Classification

The Trade Mark Classification system is divided between goods, in classes 1 – 34 and services, in classes 35 – 45.  The examples provided in these classes are not exhaustive and you would therefore need to use the Classification Search Tool if your goods/services were not on the list.  This is because your trade mark gives your product or service the correct protection, and very often applications fail because the correct class or classes were not indicated when submitting an application.

It can be confusing and due to the costs involved (especially if you have to make repeat applications) it is advised that using a Trade Mark Attorney makes for a much easier process.

Some of the classes for the Classification of Goods include:-

Class 11 – Apparatus for lighting, heating, steam generating, cooking, refrigerating, drying, ventilating, water supply and sanitary purposes; air conditioning apparatus; electric kettles; gas and electric cookers; vehicle lights and vehicle air conditioning units.

Class 12 – Vehicles; apparatus for locomotion by land, air or water; wheelchairs; motors and engines for land vehicles; vehicle body parts and transmissions.

Class 15 – Musical instruments; stands and cases adapted for musical instruments.

Class 16 – Paper, cardboard and goods made from these materials, not included in other classes; printed matter; bookbinding material; photographs; stationery; adhesives for stationery or household purposes; artists’ materials; paint brushes; typewriters and office requisites (except furniture); instructional and teaching material (except apparatus); plastic materials for packaging (not included in other classes); printers’ type; printing blocks.

Class 25 – Clothing, footwear, headgear.

Some of the classes for the Classification of Services include:-

Class 35 – Advertising; business management; business administration; office functions; organisation, operation and supervision of loyalty and incentive schemes; advertising services provided via the Internet; production of television and radio advertisements; accountancy; auctioneering; trade fairs; opinion polling; data processing; provision of business information; retail services connected with the sale of [list specific goods].

Class 36 – Insurance; financial services; real estate agency services; building society services; banking; stockbroking; financial services provided via the Internet; issuing of tokens of value in relation to bonus and loyalty schemes; provision of financial information.

Class 38 – Telecommunications services; chat room services; portal services; e-mail services; providing user access to the Internet; radio and television broadcasting.

Class 43 – Services for providing food and drink; temporary accommodation; restaurant, bar and catering services; provision of holiday accommodation; booking and reservation services for restaurants and holiday accommodation; retirement home services; creche services.

The reason that there is a Classification List of 45 classes is an attempt to ease the process of identifying which category your particular goods or services belong.  Basically:

  •         a product is classified according to its function or purpose.
  •         raw materials are classified according to the material of which they consist.
  •         services are classified according to activity
  •         information services are classified in the same classes as the services that correspond to the subject matter of the advice.

Since the implementation of the new Trade Marks Act on 31 October 1994 applicants have been able to file an application covering more than one class of goods/services, these are more commonly called multi-class applications, and are a very useful tool for some companies.

When filing a trade mark application, you must identify which class or classes of goods/services you wish to apply for and pay a separate filing fee for each class.

Although the trade mark office reviews each class of goods and services independently, you should file an application to cover all classes that you intend to file your trade mark under. Even if your trade mark is rejected for a specific class, you will still be able to register your trade mark for the remaining classes.

The value of filing your trade mark is supported by the fact that a 2011 IPO (Intellectual Property Office) study found that companies who apply for trade marks are on average 7% more productive than those that do not.

In 2014 there were 110,838 UK trade mark applications, and these are increasing year on year, and the benefits are substantial.

However, the classification list is long, and it can be hard to ascertain quite where your product or service sits, and it can be far easier to seek the help and advice of a trade mark attorney who deals with these applications on a regular basis.