TMEP 1402.11(a)(iii): Provision of Telecommunications Connections to the Internet

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1402.11(a)(iii)    Provision of Telecommunications Connections to the Internet

Telecommunication connections, such as those provided by AT&T® and Verizon®, are the wired, or wireless, electronic means by which one telecommunications-enabled device, such as a telephone, smartphone, or computer, communicates with another telecommunications-enabled device.  The Class 38 activities of a telecommunications connection provider do NOT include providing the computer hardware or software that enables the electronic transmission of the data. These telecommunications services connect the user’s device to the internet via wired or wireless means.

Just because an applicant is conducting an internet-based activity or rendering a service that involves electronic transmission of data, the applicant’s service is not automatically considered a telecommunications service in Class 38.  For example, an applicant who merely provides a website featuring sports information is not providing "electronic transmission of messages and data in the field of sports," in Class 38.  The telecommunications services providers, such as AT&T® and Verizon®, are providing the Internet connections for the actual transmissions; the applicant is merely making the information available.

Providing online bulletin boards and chat rooms is classified in Class 38 regardless of the content or subject matter.  The rationale for this stems from the fact that these services allow individuals to communicate with each other, like other Class 38 services.

"Providing multiple-user access to the Internet," is classified in Class 38. Note:  This identification covers those services provided by Internet Service Providers ("ISPs"), such as Cox®, AOL®, Comcast®, Verizon®, and AT&T®.  ISPs provide the computer connection (often using the Class 38 telecommunications services of other entities) that enables a computer user to access the databases and websites of others via the Internet.  These entities are considered "access providers" in that they provide the computer connection needed for a computer user to access a content provider.  The word "access" should be limited to these services and should not be used in describing the services of a content provider.

Some acceptable identifications:

  • "Providing telecommunications connections to the Internet or databases, in Class 38."
  • "Transmission of electronic mail, in International Class 38."
  • "Broadcasting of video and audio programming over the Internet, in Class 38."
  • "Webcasting services, in Class 38."
  • "Web conferencing services, in Class 38."
  • "Providing on-line chat rooms for transmission of messages among computer users concerning topics of interest to teens in Class 38."
  • "Providing multiple-user access to the Internet in Class 38."  Many ISPs have expanded their services to encompass content-based services for their subscribers.  The "providing multiple-user access" identification only covers the ISP services.  If the applicant wishes to protect its "content-based" services, it must identify those services with specificity and pay any additional fees, as appropriate. For information on identifying and classifying content-provider services, see TMEP § 1402.11(a)(ii).