Single Class vs. Multi-Class Trademark Applications
When filing trademark applications, most countries require that the goods and services in the application be grouped into various classes under the International (Nice) Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks (Ninth Edition)
(the “Nice Classification”). The current version of the Nice Classification consists of 34 classes of goods and 11 classes of services. Each class generally relates to particular goods or services. Products are divided into classes according to the function or purpose of the item (for instance, lipstick is a cosmetic included in Class 3 and flutes are musical instruments included in Class 15), or, if there is no apparent function or purpose, according to its material composition (for instance, plastic garment hangers are included in Class 20). Services are classified according to the nature of the activity or service performed (for instance, Class 36 covers insurance and financial services and Class 38 covers telecommunications services).
The classification system streamlines and quickens the registration process in a cost effective manner. The Nice Classification has been adopted by more than 83 countries, making the identification of goods and services in trademark applications in these countries a more consistent process.
Some countries require that separate trademark applications be filed for separate classes of goods and services. However, other countries accept “multi-class” applications. This means that a single application can be filed to cover more than one class of goods or services. For a multi-class application, the applicant is generally required to pay additional class fees. In many of the countries accepting multi-class applications the fees are calculated per class. However, there are also countries where the basic application fee covers a certain number of classes (often up to 3 classes) and only when the number of classes in the application exceeds that number are additional per class fees required. The applicant should also be aware that in some countries accepting only single class applications, additional fees may be required if the applicant exceeds a certain number of items in the goods/services description of the single class, and a multi-class application could be required to be converted to single class application(s) during the examination process.
Single Class vs. Multi-Class TM Applications Chart
This chart provides easy access to the basic information stating whether a particular jurisdiction recognizes single class or multi-class trademark applications. As such, the chart may not reflect all possible circumstances.
Additional INTA Resources
For more detailed information about single class and multi-class jurisdictions, INTA members can log into Country Guides: Essential Information on Trademark Protection Worldwide
and perform an advanced search of Classification under Section II. Filing.