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

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1401.05(b)    Medical vs. Non-Medical Goods

It is sometimes difficult to determine whether certain pieces of apparatus are classified in Class 9 or Class 10. Class 9 goods include those used for scientific research or industrial purposes, while Class 10 goods are used for medical treatment or diagnostic purposes. This distinction may mean that the same goods could be classified in either class depending upon their use. However, even if the goods perform the same function, they are often different in nature, depending on whether they are for industrial or research use, or for medical treatment or diagnostic use. For example, a thermometer for medical use is in Class 10, while thermometers other than for medical use are in Class 9. While both items measure temperature, they are usually very different in nature.

Some goods are classified in Class 10 when they are for medical use and in another class when they are not for medical use. An item should be specified as being for medical use if it could be in a class other than Class 10 when not for medical use. For example, lasers for medical use are in Class 10, while lasers not for medical use are in Class 9. Items specially adapted for use by invalids or handicapped individuals are also classified in Class 10. Thus, toilets adapted for handicapped persons are in Class 10, while toilets (without any further specification) are in Class 11. Finally, if an item is normally not classified in Class 10 (see the Class 11 example above), it is not necessary to specify that it is not for medical use when it is classified in its normal class. When that item is used for medical purposes, the medical use must be specified in order to justify its classification in Class 10. If it is possible for an item to be commonly used for medical or non-medical purposes, its purpose must be specified in the identification in order for it to be classified appropriately (see the example regarding lasers above).