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The purpose of classification

Written by Mekael Rahman on 21 February 2017

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The UK’s trade mark registration system is based on an internationally agreed system comprising classes that cover different goods and services. One must therefore ponder and subsequently appreciate the purpose of classification.

‘The International Classification of Goods and Services’, also known as the ‘Nice Classification’, is employed by the UK as it facilitates efficient searching of trade marks. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) administers the International Classification which is utilised by more than 140 countries across the globe in addition to organisations such as the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).  83 of these countries are party to the Nice Agreement and 66 of them, whilst not party to the said agreement, use the Nice Classification system.

The system consists of 45 classes and categorises broadly similar goods or services which consequently aids the registry in conducting constructive searches of the register. Furthermore, businesses are also able to check whether there are any conflicting registered marks pertaining to particular goods or services. Classes 1 – 34 contain goods and classes 35 – 45 contain services.

Classification may be viewed as an administrative tool, however its significance to applicants when it comes to determining the boundaries of infringement rights should not be underestimated. Should the applicant furnish an incorrect application regarding the classification of goods or services, the validity of any rights originating from a subsequent registration could be questioned.  A mark might consequently be the subject of proceedings in order to be removed from the register.

The amount of information provided about the goods or services that are to be classified will determine the time it takes the Classification Team to meet their targets. 

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