TMEP 1902.02(f)(ii): Providing a Website/Online Portal

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1902.02(f)(ii)    Providing a Website/Online Portal

Any activity consisting of a service that ordinarily falls in classes 35-37, 39, 41, 44, and 45 (e.g., real-estate agency services or banking services in Class 36 or dating services in Class 45), and that happens to be provided over the Internet, is classified in the class of the underlying service. See TMEP §1402.11(a). It is not classified in Class 42 merely because the services involve the use of a computer. Similarly, the service of providing information via the Internet is classified in the class of the subject matter of the information. See TMEP §1402.11(b). Entities that provide these services by computer are considered to be "content providers," that is, they provide the informational or substantive content of websites, homepages, or online portals.

If an international applicant identifies services with the introductory language "providing a website …" or "providing an on-line portal …," regardless of the subject activities that follow, the IB is likely to issue a notice of irregularity requiring the applicant to clarify the nature of the services and possibly suggesting "hosting of a website …" and/or reclassification to Class 42. To avoid issuance of a notice of irregularity by the IB, an international applicant may wish to set forth its services with the principal activity first and then indicate that such services are "provided by means of a website" or "provided through an online portal."

For example, if the identification in the underlying application or registration is "providing an Internet website portal in the field of music" in Class 41, the services in the international application may be listed as "providing information in the field of music by means of an Internet website portal." Note that the list of services in the international application must remain within the scope of the services in the basic application and/or registration or the MPU trademark specialist will deny certification.