On October 6, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruled to incorporate the international trademark classification changes adopted by the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks (“Nice Classification”). The two trademark classification changes will become effective on January 1, 2022.

What are International Trademark Classifications?

When an applicant files for a trademark, he/she is required to identify the goods and services provided under his/her mark. The applicant must choose an International Class (IC) to accurately identify the goods and/or services on or in connection with which the applicant uses or intends to his/her mark in commerce. Since September 1, 1973, goods and services have been classified according to the international classification of goods and services.

International classifications are governed by the Nice Agreement, a multilateral treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization. The Nice Classification has 34 classes of goods and 11 classes of services. Each class has a heading that indicates the areas to which goods and services belong. The Nice Agreement provides guidance in determining the appropriate classification, including general remarks, class headings, and explanatory notes for each international trademark class. In addition, USPTO Trademark ID Manual contains further classification guidance.

Since 2013, the Committee of Experts of the Nice Union annually votes on proposed changes to the Nice Classification. The changes are published on January 1 of each year. The upcoming revisions can be found in the Nice Classification, Eleventh Edition, Version 2022 (NCL 11-2022), and the USPTO Trademark ID Manual.

What are the trademark classification changes for 2022?

The 2022 Nice Classification changes consist of additions and deletions from two class headings to further define the appropriate type of goods for those classes. Under the class 30 heading, Staple Foods, the wording “artificial coffee” will be changed to “substitutes therefor.” Under the class 22 heading, Light Beverages, the word “non-alcoholic” will be deleted after “other” and added after “making.”

The descriptions of international class headings are designed to guide applicants to determine which IC their goods and/or services belong. The examples in those descriptions are not an exhaustive list of what goods and/or services may be filed under an IC. Because the Nice Classification 2022 revisions only amend the wordings, the trademark classification changes will not impact the legal requirements for trademark registration for applicants or mark owners.