TMEP 1402.11(a)(ix): Database Services

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1402.11(a)(ix)    Database Services

Prior to January 1, 2002, the service of providing an on-line database via the Internet was classified in Class 42 if the database included a wide variety of subject matter.  However, effective January 1, 2002, the service-related subject matter or content of the online database now governs the classification of the services.  Applicants must now separate the subject matter or content of the databases into their appropriate individual international classes.  Acceptable identifications include:

  • "Providing an on-line searchable database featuring employment opportunities, in Class 35."
  • "Providing an on-line computer database in the field of stock/securities market information, in Class 36."
  • "Providing an on-line searchable database in the field of {indicate specific scientific or technology-related field} for scientific research purposes, in Class 42."

A database is "a usually large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer)." https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/database (accessed Aug. 11, 2017). The activity of providing an online computer database comprises providing a searchable compilation of data on particular subject matters. Thus, identifications that reference specific functions of an online database service are typically indefinite as they potentially include services in multiple classes. For example, the identification "providing an online computer database which allows hospitals to download medical records" is unacceptable. It is unclear if the applicant provides (1) a database service classified according to service-related subject matter, (2) a Class 42 technological service provided on a database, such as "providing temporary use of a non-downloadable web application used to download medical records via a database," or (3) both a database and a technology service.

In determining whether the specimens support "database provision services," look for the following clues:

  • See if the specimens use words like "to access our database," "our database includes…," etc.
  • Confirm that the information provided online is capable of being searched, sorted, re-arranged, and indexed like a traditional database.
  • If the specimens consist of merely a series of web pages, this is NOT a database. A more appropriate identification might be "providing information in the field of {indicate service-related subject matter or nature of information} via a website, in Class ___ (classification depends on the subject matter)."

See TMEP §1402.11(b) regarding information services.

Other common database services include the following:

  • "Database development services, in Class 42."
  • "Computerized database management, in Class 35."

When recorded on computer media or downloadable, databases are goods classified in Class 9. Identifications for downloadable or recorded databases in Class 9 must also include the subject matter of the database.