TMEP 1401.05(d): Identification and Classification of "Systems"

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1401.05(d)    Identification and Classification of "Systems"

In general, the USPTO will not accept identifications of goods described as "systems." This terminology fails to satisfy the requirement that the application specify the particular goods on or in connection with which the applicant uses, or has a bona fide intention to use, the mark in commerce and is thus indefinite because it may encompass goods in more than one class. See TMEP §§1402.01, 1402.01(a). For example, if the applicant submits an indefinite identification of goods described as "systems" (e.g., lawn-care systems), the examining attorney must require an amendment to the identification. The amended identification must specify the nature, purpose, or use of the system and its primary parts or components. The primary parts or components should be specified first in the list of the system’s parts or components. The system is classified in the same class as the primary parts or components. For example, lawn-care systems comprised of lawn mowers and herbicides are in Class 7, which is the same class as the lawn mowers; lawn-care systems comprised of herbicides, pesticides, and lawn sprinklers are in Class 5, which is the same class as the herbicides and pesticides.

Although USPTO policy generally requires further specificity of "systems," the USPTO may accept this wording when the identification is a generic term for a particular category of goods classified in a single international class. For example, "brake systems for vehicles" is an acceptable identification in Class 12 because it is a generic term for a combination of goods functioning as a unit to brake the vehicle. The ID Manual also lists additional acceptable wording for specific types of systems.