I’m going to use my trademark on clothing… what class is that?

Merchandise is one of the most challenging considerations for trademark applicants. Don’t worry, we’re not advising you against branding! But gaining a trademark registration for certain types of branded merchandise can be a challenge if you don’t know what USPTO examiners are looking for. These class designations can also be confusing. While a restaurant selling caps, glassware, and coaster sets emblazoned with the same logo might consider these products closely related, the USPTO would disagree. As it happens, they fall into several different international classes. We know, we’re sorry, we don’t make the rules: if you wish to secure a trademark for tee shirts and pint glasses, you are going to need to submit two separate applications.

First things first: let’s talk about the trickiest little class out there, class 25. This encompasses the majority of clothing items and can be a bit difficult to navigate. We recommend reading this for a more detailed breakdown. In a nutshell, there is a difference between something functioning as a trademark on a piece of clothing and something merely decorating a piece of clothing. It often comes down to size and placement; the smaller the better if you want to show use as a trademark/brand identifier. For a tee shirt, that might mean printing your logo on a tag or breast pocket; for a cap, perhaps a small patch or tag on the side or back. Ultimately, the trademark is in the eye of the examiner and class 25 registrations are notoriously scrutinized, so you want to feel confident in your specimen before submitting.

Glassware, on the other hand, can pretty straightforwardly show trademark use with a name or logo being printed on your pint, goblet, tulip, or tumbler. However, this will not gain you a registration in class 25, with beverage glassware instead appearing in class 21.

Using your trademark on coasters? Your class here will be determined by the material your coaster is made from: cardboard = class 16; plastic, leather, or anything not comprised of paper or textile = class 21; cloth = class 24.

Keeping these things in mind, while you may be using your trademark in a number of ways, the longevity of how you intend to use it is worth considering before you file – where is it most important to protect your use and will you be able to provide an appropriate specimen now and in the future?