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The history of classification

Written by Mekael Rahman on 24 August 2017

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A system of 50 classes was employed regarding the trade mark registration process in the UK in 1876. The classes used are embedded in the Rules that were espoused during the time of the first Trade Marks Act. The initial system was utilised until 1938 when the new Trade Marks Act and Rules of the said year became law. In 1938, the registry published a 'Guide to the Classification of Goods under the Trade Marks Acts 1905 1919'. This illustrates the class headings and provides an alphabetical list of goods along with their class numbers; it is the best published classification guide for its time period.

A new international classification was created by the United International Bureau for the Protection of Intellectual Property (BIRPI) at the International Conference. The UK subsequently adopted this classification in 1938; the class headings were published as Schedule IV to the Trade Mark Rules of 1938 and appertained to applications that were made on or after 27 July 1938. The Trade Marks Act 1938 concurrently came into force. The said classification was further expounded in two publications, namely, ‘The Alphabetical Index to the Substituted Classification of Goods’ and ‘The List of Goods in each of the Classes of the Substituted Classification of Goods’. The 1938 classification has been revised multiple times since the date of its inception and the amendments have been furnished in various Trade Mark Journals.  

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