The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), the federal agency in charge of federal trademark registration, categorizes marks into 45 different “classes” of products or services. The goal of these classes is to allow various types of businesses to register their trademarks in the categories most relevant to their core business. Insurance, financial affairs, monetary affairs, and real estate affairs are all covered by Trademark Class 36. Registrants primarily use Class 36 for financial and monetary services. The class includes, in particular:
- services of all the banking establishments, or institutions connected with them such as exchange brokers or clearing services
- services of credit institutions other than banks such as co-operative credit associations, individual financial companies, lenders, and so forth
- services of “investment trusts,” of holding companies
- services of brokers dealing in shares and property
- services connected with monetary affairs vouched for by trustees
- services rendered in connection with the issue of travelers’ cheques and letters of credit;
- hire- or lease-purchase financing
- services of realty administrators of buildings, i.e., services of letting or valuation, or financing, and
- Services dealing with insurance such as services rendered by agents or brokers engaged in insurance, services rendered to insured, and insurance underwriting services.
Examples of Trademarks in Class 36
Good examples of Class 36 marks include TIC (financial consulting), GREATFLORIDA INSURANCE (insurance agency), and PROTECT ME (insurance consulting).
Related or Coordinated Classes
If you are not sure whether you should register in Class 36, you might also consider the following “coordinated” classes: Class 35 – Advertising and Business Services, Class 37 – Construction and Repair Services, Class 38 – Telecommunications Services, Class 39 – Shipping and Travel Services, Class 40 – Material Treatment Services, Class 41 – Education and Entertainment Services, Class 42 – Science and Technology Services, Class 43 – Food Services, Class 44 – Medical and Vet Services, Class 45 – Legal and Security Services. A coordinated class is related to another class, usually, because the PTO has determined that applicants filing within Class 36 often file in these other classes, too.
The trademark class system will also have an impact on the amount of registration fees you pay. 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 registration is 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 trademark database, you may also need information about the class number.
Supplying Specimens for Class 36
A service specimen must demonstrate the use of the mark in a way that potential purchasers would interpret as identifying the applicant’s services and indicating their source. The specimen must show an association between the mark and the services for which registration is sought when the mark is used in advertising the services. A specimen that only shows the mark and no reference to the services does not demonstrate service mark usage.
When you provide a service, you do not have a product to which you can apply a label. A variety of materials that cannot be used for product marks are acceptable specimens for services. Scanned copies of advertising and marketing materials, such as newspaper and magazine ads, brochures, billboards, direct mail pieces, and menus, are included (for restaurants).
Letterhead stationery and business cards bearing the mark may be used if the services are clearly reflected on them because the name or symbol claimed as a mark would be used to identify the services provided in that context—that is, as a mark rather than a trade name. If the mark appears and the services are described in the letter, a letter on stationery will even be accepted as a specimen for a service mark.
In the case of Internet-based services, a screenshot of the entire Web page should suffice. The more prominently displayed the mark on the home page, the better.
The following specimens are not acceptable for Class 36 service marks:
- news releases or news release-based articles
- Invoices and similar documents such as packing slips, and letterhead or business cards that bear only the mark and a company name and address, unless the letterhead or text of the letter identifies the services represented by the mark.
While most marks are found in writing, trademarks can also be found in audio format. You may submit a sound file of the audio if your mark represents a service and appears only on radio ads or in other audio forms.