TMEP 1401.05(b): Medical vs. Non-Medical Goods

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

Previous: §1401.05(a) | Next: §1401.05(c)

1401.05(b)    Medical vs. Non-Medical Goods

It is sometimes difficult to determine whether certain apparatus and instruments are classified in Class 9 or Class 10. While photographic, optical, measuring, testing, and scientific apparatus and instruments are generally classified in Class 9, surgical, medical, dental, or veterinary apparatus and instruments used for the diagnosis, treatment, or improvement of function or condition of persons or animals are generally classified in Class 10. Certain goods could be classified in both classes, with appropriate wording, depending upon their use. For example, thermometers are commonly used for both medical and non-medical purposes. Thermometers for medical use are in Class 10 because they function as medical instruments, while thermometers other than for medical use, such as meat thermometers, are in Class 9 because they function as measuring apparatus. While both items measure temperature, they are usually very different in nature and classified in different classes based on their specific uses.

Goods should be specified as being for surgical, medical, dental, or veterinary use only when the items could be in a class other than Class 10 when not for surgical, medical, dental, or veterinary use. When goods, like thermometers, are commonly used for both surgical, medical, dental, or veterinary use and non-surgical, medical, dental or veterinary use, it is sufficient to indicate that the goods are "for medical use" or "not for medical use," as appropriate, to justify the classification. The mere addition of "for medical use" to an identification is not sufficient to justify classification of items in Class 10 if the goods are not directly used for the diagnosis, treatment, or improvement of function or condition of persons or animals.

If an item is normally not classified in Class 10, it is not necessary to specify that it is not for surgical, medical, dental, or veterinary use when it is classified in its normal class. For example, "thread" (without any further specification) is an acceptable identification in Class 23, while "surgical thread" is classified in Class 10 based on its surgical use. To justify classification of goods not commonly used for surgical, medical, dental, or veterinary use in Class 10, the identification must indicate the particular surgical, medical, dental, or veterinary use of the goods in diagnosing, treating, or improving the function or condition of persons or animals.

Items specially adapted for use by people with disabilities are also classified in Class 10. The identification must indicate that the goods are "specially adapted" for that particular purpose to justify the classification in Class 10. For example, while "toilets" (without any further specification) are in Class 11, "toilets adapted for medical patients or for use by disabled persons" are in Class 10.