Ⅰ. Overview of the classification of goods and services

The Nice Agreement (from 1957) establishes a classification of goods and services for the purposes of registering trademarks (the Nice Classification). The States that are members of the Nice Agreement shall apply the Nice Classification for that purpose. Instead of using the Nice Classification directly, the China Trademark Office divides the goods and services in the Nice Classification into different groups, adds more goods and services in China, and formulates the Classification of Similar Goods and Services (the China Classification) suitable for applications in China. A new version of Nice Classification is published annually, and the China Classification is adjusted accordingly.

In order to further facilitate applicants, the China Trademark Office regularly publishes List of acceptable goods and services beyond the China Classification(List). These goods and services could be used in new trademark registration applications.

In addition to the above China Classification and List of acceptable goods and services beyond the China Classification, the applicants may also designate other goods and services, provided that the basic requirements set forth below are met.

Ⅱ. Basic requirements for designating goods and services 

1.When applying for trademark registration, the applicant should first consider using the standard items of goods and services listed in the China Classification. Specially, the goods and services before six-digit codes should be used, not the class number, class headings, explanatory notes, subclass headings, codes, etc. 

 "Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)" 

"Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)" belongs to class 9, subclass 0901 “electronic computers and their external equipment", its number code is 090790. In the new application, the designation for this good should be "Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)"

2. The applicant can choose items from List of acceptable goods and services beyond the China Classification published by the China Trademark Office. These items do not have 6-digit codes, but are grouped under specific similar groups according to the Classification principles of Nice classification. The applicants can choose according to their needs.

 "Railroad wagons"

"Railroad wagons" does not belong to the "China Classification" , but this item could be used in new trademark applications, as it is located in subclass 1201 of the List of acceptable goods and services beyond the China Classification. 

3. The applicant can also designate goods and services not contained in the previous two classifications, but should meet the following requirements.

(1) In line with the classification principles of Nice Classification and China Classification implemented at the time of submitting the application, the goods and services that have expired or have not yet taken effect at the time of submitting the application shall not be designated. "Babies’s diapers of paper and cellulose, disposable" 

"Babies’s diapers of paper and cellulose, disposable" used to belong to Class 16, but was deleted in 2012. Now “Diapers [babies’ napkins]" is a standard item in Class 5 of Nice Classification, "baby diapers made of paper" or "baby diapers made of cellulose" should also be acceptable in class 5 according to the classification principle. 

(2) The language of the designation shall be accurate to describe the goods/services and be sufficient to distinguish the goods/services from those in other classes. The names of goods or services that are ambiguous, too broad, insufficient to determine their class or easy to cause misunderstanding shall be avoided.

<Example>"e-commerce services”

The concept of "e-commerce" is not clear, it It generally refers to business activities by means of information network technology, which may include many industries or service contents. Therefore, "e-commerce service" is too broad, and a more specific description "logistics distribution of ecommerce service" is acceptable

When applying for trademark registration, the applicant may use descriptive words which could be description on the function, uses, raw materials, sales channels, consumers or other aspects of the goods or description on the purpose, contents, manners, consumers or other aspects of the services. According to the descriptive words, the applicant can find the appropriate class to apply for the mark.

<Example>

 "Household automatic stir-fry electric cooker" should be in class 11 according to the description on goods function; "singing training" should be in class 41 according to the description on service purpose

(3) The designation of goods and services should comply with the Law on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language, comply with the use of punctuation and the language habits of the public, should use the standard simplified Chinese characters, no misspellings and traditional characters

<Example>"vitamin supplements"

vitamin" has a Chinese transliteration “维他命”and also a Chinese translation“维生素”which is more standard in Chinese language, so the latter one should be used for this good

(4) Descriptive materials of the goods and services could be submitted with the new application. The material is only a supplement to explain the goods/services for the examiner’s reference, not a part of the good/service name. Even if the applicant attaches such descriptive materials, the name of the goods/service itself should meet all the above requirements.

Ⅲ. Tools to search for goods and services

The applicants can find out the Nice Classification, the China Classification, or the List of acceptable goods and services beyond the China Classification easily online. But as the Nice Classification and the China Classification are revised and adjusted every year, and the List of acceptable goods and services beyond the China Classification is updated quarterly, the applicants are advised to go to the official website to find the latest versions of them, which can be referred to as follows.

1. If the applicant or his agent is convenient to use English, he can use the website of WIPO https://webaccess.wipo.int/mgs/index.jsp?lang=en to inquire the English goods and services of Nice Classification. Except for a very few items not accepted by Chinese law, such as organization of lotteries, the goods and services of the Nice Classification are basically included in the China Classification.

2. If the applicant or his agent is convenient to use Chinese, he can go to the "Trademark Search Section of China Trademark Office Website" or "Trademark Online Filing System" to inquire all the contents of the China Classification or the List of acceptable goods and services beyond the China Classification.

3. Through a cooperative project among China, Japan and Korea, the China- Japan-Korea Concordance List of Similar Group Codes corresponding to Nice Classification was jointly made and issued(WEB:http://sbj.cnipa.gov.cn/sbj/tzgg/202206/t20220613_21868.html), which is convenient for Japanese and Korean applicants to search and select goods and services when they intend to file trademark applications in China. The latest version of the list can be found in the official website of CNIPA, JPO and KIPO. 

Ⅳ. Conclusion

When the designation of goods and services do not meet the above requirements, the Trademark Office will give the opportunity to make corrections. The applicant may choose acceptable items from the China Classification, the List of acceptable goods and services beyond the China Classification, to amend the name of goods and services or provide additional explanatory materials in accordance with the above requirements. If the correction does not meet the requirements, the trademark registration application will not be accepted. 

We hope this article will be helpful to applicants on the issue of how to designate goods and services in China.