TMEP 1402.01: Specifying the Goods and/or Services - in General

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

Previous: §1402 | Next: §1402.01(a)

1402.01    Specifying the Goods and/or Services - in General

A written application must specify the particular goods and/or services on or in connection with which the applicant uses, or has a bona fide intention to use, the mark in commerce. 15 U.S.C. §§1051(a)(2) and 1051(b)(2); 37 C.F.R. §2.32(a)(6).  To "specify" means to name in an explicit manner.  The identification should set forth common names, using terminology that is generally understood.  For products or services that do not have common names, the applicant should use clear and succinct language to describe or explain the item.  Technical or esoteric language and lengthy descriptions of characteristics or uses are not appropriate.

The language used to describe goods and/or services should be understandable to the average person and should not require an in-depth knowledge of the relevant field.  An identification may include terms of art in a particular field or industry that are definite and limited to a single class, but, if these terms are not widely understood by the general population, the identification should include an explanation of the specialized terminology.

The identification of goods and/or services must be specific, definite, clear, accurate, and concise. See In re Societe Generale des Eaux Minerales de Vittel S.A., 1 USPQ2d 1296 (TTAB 1986), rev’d on other grounds, 824 F.2d 957, 3 USPQ2d 1450 (Fed. Cir. 1987); The Procter & Gamble Co. v. Economics Laboratory, Inc., 175 USPQ 505 (TTAB 1972), modified without opinion, 498 F.2d 1406, 181 USPQ 722 (C.C.P.A. 1974); In re Cardinal Laboratories, Inc., 149 USPQ 709 (TTAB 1966); California Spray-Chemical Corp. v. Osmose Wood Preserving Co. of America, Inc., 102 USPQ 321 (Comm’r Pats. 1954); Ex parte The A.C. Gilbert Co., 99 USPQ 344 (Comm’r Pats. 1953).

The applicant must identify the goods and services specifically to provide public notice and to enable the USPTO to classify the goods and services properly and to reach informed judgments concerning likelihood of confusion under 15 U.S.C. §1052(d). An identification that fails to identify the goods and services with specificity is indefinite, either because the nature of the goods or services is not clear or because the wording is so broad that it may include goods or services in more than one class. The USPTO has discretion to require the degree of particularity deemed necessary to clearly identify the goods and/or services covered by the mark. In re Omega SA, 494 F.3d 1362, 83 USPQ2d 1541 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

As indicated above, an identification should set forth the common name of a good or service using terminology that is generally understood. Wording such as "included in this class" is not the common name of particular goods or services and would not be understood by those unfamiliar with the Nice Classification. If an identification includes wording such as "included in this class," "belonging in this class," or "excluding goods/services in other classes," or the like, the examining attorney will require the applicant to delete such wording because it does not identify a particular good or service.

The identification itself must not include references to specific class numbers. Examining attorneys may delete wording related to the Class number from the identification by no-call examiner’s amendment and must ensure that such wording is removed from the identification prior to approving a mark for publication or registration. See TMEP §707.02 regarding examiner’s amendments without prior authorization. See generally TMEP §817 regarding preparation of an application for publication or registration.

Terminology that includes items in more than one class is considered indefinite, even with such additional wording as "included in this class" at the end of the identification. See id. ("chronographs" includes both time recording devices in Class 9 and watches in Class 14; merely classifying the goods in only one of the classes does not preclude a requirement for further specificity in the identification).

Example: "Blankets" is not acceptable without qualifying wording because it is not particular enough to identify the kind of blanket on which the mark is used, e.g., fire blankets (Class 9), electric blankets for household purposes (Class 11), horse blankets (Class 18), and bed blankets (Class 24).

However, the conclusion that a term would clearly include items classified in more than one class should not be drawn unless reasonable, in light of the evidence of record. See In re Thor Tech, Inc., 85 USPQ2d 1474 (TTAB 2007) ("park trailer" held to be an acceptable identification, where the applicant’s evidence showed that it is a term of art generally understood by those in the industry and by consumers as a designation for a type of recreational vehicle, which unambiguously places it in Class 12; Board was not persuaded by the examining attorney’s argument that the identification  was indefinite because it could also encompass mobile homes in Class 19.).

The accuracy of identification language in the original application is important because the identification cannot later be expanded. See 37 C.F.R. §2.71(a); TMEP §§1402.06 et seq. and 1402.07 et seq.; In re M.V Et Associes, 21 USPQ2d 1628 (Comm’r Pats. 1991).

See TMEP §1306.02(c) regarding the identification of goods and services in certification mark applications and TMEP §1304.02(c) regarding identification language in collective membership mark applications.