What are class(es) and specification(s) and how do you choose them for your trade mark?

trade mark classes singapore

In Singapore, when you register a trade mark, it has to be registered according to the goods and services your trade mark will apply to.

Trade marks are classified according to the Nice Classification system, a system which divides goods and services into 45 different classes. Classes 1 – 34 are classes of goods whereas Classes 35 – 45 are classes of services

Each class heading gives general information about the types of goods and services which belong to that class. For example, the heading for Class 15 is “Musical Instruments”. In this situation, it’s simple enough to figure out what types of goods fall under this class. If your business revolves around selling guitars, you’ll probably want to register your trade mark under this class. However, it’s not enough to know which class your trade mark potentially falls under. To register your trade mark under the Nice system, you’re required to state the class number as well as the appropriate specification(s) as well.

A specification is a “unit” of the goods or services within the class. Specifications which you’d use for the above business under Class 15 could include “guitars” and “stringed musical instruments”. If you’re a little confused, think of it in this way – the class is the category for certain goods or services and the specification is the good or service within that category.

While the above example is a fairly straightforward one, real life tends to be a little more complicated. For example, Udemy, a fairly popular startup in the education space offers online and downloadable educational courses on its web platform. If you were a startup in this space, and only had the budget to choose from only one class, which class would you choose from?

Would you choose to register your trade mark under Class 42 – Design and development of computer hardware and software or under Class 41 – Education; providing of training?

In Udemy’s case, it registered in both classes (as well as a number of others) in the U.S but many startups in Singapore may only have the budget for registration in only one class. What then?

There’s no easy answer to this question. Both classes have their merits for registration. However, here’s a simple two-step test your startup can use in deciding which class to choose if you’re on a budget.

1). Is the trade mark for a specific product or for the startup?

Imagine you run a startup building Software as a Service (“SaaS”) products in a number of different verticals, a few of which are in the education space. In this scenario, you’d want to register your trade mark for the startup under Class 42 because your company is effectively a software company.

However, if you want to protect the specific SaaS products which are in the education space, you might want to protect that particular trade mark under Class 41 instead.

2). Which class will your trade mark have the widest reach in?

Let us refer to our Udemy analogy again. Udemy is essentially a software product focusing on the education industry. While there are strong arguments to be made with regards to which classes the maximum impact of the product would be felt, Udemy is in the business of providing educational courses. The entire purpose for the software component is to ensure that Udemy delivers its educational courses. As such, the product is an educational product and should be registered in Class 41.

Ideally, it often makes more sense to register your trade mark in a few different classes. That being said, we understand that funds are often scarce in a startup scenario. A good compromise for most startups would be to register in one class first before registering in other classes when they have a more stable cash flow. From there, startups choosing to expand overseas should also consider registering their trade marks in those countries as well.

To find out more about the different classes and specifications under the Nice Classification system, click here.

To find out more about the trade mark registration process in Singapore, click here.

If you’d like to have an affordable, experienced trade mark lawyer assist you in registering your trade mark, get in touch with us here.