Trade marks

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Classification of trade marks and images

Each trade mark is registered for certain goods and services. In order to classify trade marks according to goods and services, the "International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks", in short "Nice Classification", was devised. In the case of figurative elements of trade marks and purely figurative marks, those figurative components are categorised on the basis of their own classification, the "Vienna Classification".

Classification is essential for trade mark applicants. Irrespective of whether you intend to register a trade mark or only want information about which marks exist, or you want to find out when a mark was cancelled or if it is still being used, you will not be able to answer any of these questions if you do not have the correct classification terms for your search. In order to perform a search in the official DPMA databases, such as a specific search, for example, you require the classification. For filing a trade mark application, you need the classification in order to draw up your list of goods and services. This list determines the scope of your trade mark’s protection. Without this list, you are not able to apply for the registration of a trade mark.

If you want to watch TV, they say "subscribe first, watch later". When it comes to trade mark matters, it is "search first, apply for registration later".

Nice Classification

The "International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks" (NCL – also referred to as "Nice Classification") is an international classification system for trade mark applications. Its name refers to an international agreement concluded in Nice in the middle of the 20th century, which has by now been implemented by more than 140 countries worldwide. The classification is administered by externer Link WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva. The Nice Classification is divided into 45 classes, which in turn are made up of 34 classes of goods and 11 classes of services.

Vienna Classification

If you have to search for figurative elements of trade marks or purely figurative marks, the "Vienna Classification – International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks" is applied. This agreement was also concluded at a conference which took place in Vienna in the 1970s. The Vienna Classification constitutes a hierarchical system that proceeds from the general to the particular, classifying all figurative elements of marks into 29 categories as well as various divisions and sections. The agreement has been adopted by 39 countries worldwide.


Last updated: 20 October 2020