This week the USPTO made several classification changes in the manual for identification of goods and services under the Nice Classification, Tenth Edition, effective January 1, 2013 (NCL 10-2013).

See below for the complete list or you can search the USPTO ID manual here and use the query: “20130101[ED]”.

These classification changes do not have any impact on the vast majority of UPSTO trademark applicants — I have consistently noted that applicants should be far more concerned about an accurate description than the class(es). The classes are almost irrelevant.  Goods and services in different classes can still be very similar and still lead to a “likelihood of confusion” when marks are similar.

To the applicant, whether “girths of leather” are described as “girths of leather” or “bands of leather” is really moot.  If the description is accurate and the USPTO accepts it, that is all that should matter in the end to the applicant. Similarly, whether “energy auditing” is in Class 42 (previously) or Class 35 (now), the rights attached to any trademark registration used in connection with “energy auditing” are the same. And registrations bearing the old class number will continue to exist on the register.

In other words, to me the International Class system and changes to it are much ado about nothing. The only real effect of any classification issue is the amount of fees paid by the applicant to the USPTO. Since a great majority of registrations and applications are in a single class, and because the changes in the Tenth Edition affect just a few dozen descriptions, the net effect of the recent ID manual changes are minimal.

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