The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO000), the federal agency in charge of trademark registration across the country, categorizes marks into 45 different “classes” of products or services. The goal of these classes is to allow different types of businesses to register their trademarks in categories that are most closely related to their core business. After all, trademark law is intended to protect consumers from unfair competition.
However, businesses with similar names may not compete with one another if they operate in completely different industries. Consumers, for example, would not assume that a company called “Perfect Fit” that makes baseball gloves competes with a company called “Perfect Fit” that makes dental braces. Both can use the same trademarks in their respective USPTO trademark classes without fear of infringement.
Class 28 is a broad category that includes games, playthings, gymnastic and sporting articles (such as baseball gloves), Christmas tree decorations, amusements, games, and fishing apparatuses.
Examples of Trademarks in Class 28
Consider POWER PRO (fishing lines), COMBAT CUBE (martial arts equipment), and HUGGALO (dolls), all good examples of common marks in Class 28.
You would not use Class 28 if you were registering:
- Christmas tree candles (Class 4 – Industrial Oils)
- diving equipment (Class 9 – Computers and Scientific Devices)
- electrical lamps (garlands) for Christmas trees (Class 11 – Appliances)
- fishing nets (Class 22 – Ropes and Textile Products)
- clothing for gymnastics and sports (Class 25 – Clothing), or
- Confectionery and chocolate decorations for Christmas trees (Class 30 – Coffee, Flour, Bread, Candy, and Rice Products).
Related or Coordinated Classes
If you are unsure whether to register in Class 28, you may want to consider the following “coordinated” classes: Class 9 – Computers and Scientific Devices, Class 16 – Paper Goods, Class 20 – Furniture, Class 25 – Clothing, Class 35 – Advertising and Business Services, Class 41 – Education and Entertainment Services, and Class 42 – Science and Technology Services.
A coordinated class is related to another class, typically because the PTO has determined that applicants filing in Class 28 frequently also file in these other classes.
Why use the class system? A class system governs trademark registration. You must pay a separate registration fee for each class of goods or services that you register. So, if you want to apply for a trademark for posters (Class 16) and shirts (Class 25), you’ll have to pay two fees.
When registering a trademark, you must specify the correct class. If you enter the wrong class, you must restart the application process.
Your registrations are limited to classes that include the goods or services that you already offer (as evidenced by the specimens you submit) or that you intend to offer (if you are registering on an intent-to-use basis). In order to narrow a search of the PTO’s trademark database, you may also need information about the class number.
Supplying Specimens for Class 28
If you are registering a mark that is currently in use in commerce, you must provide a specimen of the mark as it is seen by consumers. The specimen must show the mark as it is used on or in connection with commercial goods. A trademark specimen should be a label, tag, or container for the goods, or a display relating to the goods. Acceptable is a photocopy or other reproduction of a specimen of the mark as it is actually used on or in connection with the goods.
A label is an acceptable specimen in most cases where the trademark is applied to the goods or containers for the goods in Class 28 by means of labels. Shipping or mailing labels may be accepted if they are attached to the goods or containers for the goods and show proper trademark usage. They are not acceptable if the mark as shown is used as a trade name rather than a trademark. One example is using the term solely as a return address.
A proper method of trademark affixation is to stamp a trademark on the goods, on the container, or tags or labels attached to the goods or containers. The trademark can be imprinted in the body of the goods, as with metal stamping, applied with a rubber stamp, or inked on with a stencil or template. Photographs or facsimiles of the actual stamping or stenciling are acceptable as specimens when a trademark is used in this manner.
The phrase “applied to the containers for the goods” refers to any type of commercial packaging that is standard for the specific goods as they move in trade. As a result, displaying the trademark on the normal commercial package for the specific Class 28 goods is an acceptable specimen. Gasoline pumps, for example, are standard containers or “packaging” for gasoline.
If this is the normal mode of use of a mark for the particular goods, a specimen showing the use of the trademark on a vehicle in which the goods are marketed to the relevant purchasers may constitute use of the mark on a container for the goods.