Tips for Business Owners: Registering Your Company Name as a Trademark – The Importance of Classes
Clients often tell me they just want to “trademark” the name of their company — using trademark as a verb. I explain that the company name is the trademark, and that they need to register the trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
During the trademark application process, the client must tell me what product(s) or service(s) they are providing in commerce using that trademark. Sometimes, the client responds, “I just want to register the name of the company.” To which I explain that there are 42 different classes of services and products in which a trademark may be registered.
Why You Need to Be Specific about the Trademark Class You Register Your Business Name In
Why does it matter which of these 42 different classes you register your business name in? Because the USPTO wants to know how the trademark is going to be used as a “source identifier” for the products and services sold in commerce by the business.
A trademark is defined as a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as a source identifier of a company or product. So, if you provide a good product or service and stay in business long enough, consumers will look at the name of your company and think about the product or service you sell in commerce.
For example, a restaurant owner may want to register the name of the restaurant in Class 43 for restaurant and bar services, Class 30 for dipping or grilling sauces (if they start bottling sauces and selling them), or Class 33 (if the owner starts bottling distilled spirits and selling them). Alternatively, if the restaurant owner starts scheduling a jazz band to provide customers with evening entertainment, they want to register in Class 41 for nightclubs.
How to Choose the Registration Class for Your Business
The USPTO has some excellent videos on this topic that may assist business owners determine which Classes of products and services are most important for them to register. Here is just one example of a great USPTO video on Goods and Services:
Finding the number of Classes and descriptions of services and products overwhelming? If so, it may be time to consult a legal professional specializing in trademarks to help you determine what is best for your business.