Trademark Goods or Services: Critical Mistakes That Can Ruin Everything

How do you decide which goods or services to include in a trademark application?

Trademarks do not exist in a vacuum. A trademark must always be tied to at least one product or service. You cannot trademark words in the abstract. So when you hear about a celebrity trademarking a phrase, the phrase or slogan must be used in offering a particular product or service. A trademark application must always identify goods or services.

Need to file a trademark application properly with lower risks of rejections? Email Vic at or call (949) 223-9623 to explore how we can get your trademark registered in less time than doing it yourself.

What is the Identification of Goods and Services?

The identification of goods and services is the description of the products covered in a trademark application. Nicknames for the identification include “ID of goods,” “ID of services” or simply ID as used in conversation between USPTO trademark examining attorneys and trademark lawyers. A trademark application may include a combination of goods and services.

There’s no limit to the number of goods or services that can be identified in an application. The cost of filing may increase with a greater number of goods/services as discussed below.

Actual Use vs. Intent-To-Use (ITU)

A use-based application should only identify only those goods or services which have been sold under the mark as of the filing date of the application. Do not include products which you have not yet sold in a use-based application.

If you would like to include products not yet sold, then file an Intent-To-Use application or choose the ITU filing basis for those items which are not yet in use. An ITU application or filing basis would allow you to include a broad range of goods and/or services that you plan to sell in the future. Be realistic though. Too many goods or services may invite others to challenge your filing based on a lack of bona fide intent to to use.

What are USPTO trademark classes of goods/services?

The USPTO categorizes goods and services (for simplicity, both will be called “products”) into 45 different classes for registration. These classifications help distinguish marks. It is common for different trademark owners to register the same mark for different products in different classes. For example, Company A might own a registration for the mark ABC covering tires while Company B owns the same mark for clothing. Even though both registrations are for the same mark(i.e., “ABC”), they may coexist as federal registrations because they are unlikely to lead to any consumer confusion in the marketplace.

A trademark search of the USPTO database for potentially conflicting marks should place a heavier emphasis on the particular class covering your relevant goods or services. Products in one class may overlap with those in another. For example, the USPTO may reject a mark for a food or beverage product because it’s too similar to a mark registered for restaurant services.

Software, mobile applications and web products face a similar issue. While computer software is often categorized under class 9, such a product may overlap with websites under class 35, messaging or telecommunications under class 38, or online social networking under Class 45. Other classes may be involved for web products depending upon the content.

Famous marks may be afforded protection that goes beyond the particular classes in which they are registered. Trademarks are meant to indicate the source of a product. Therefore, it’s not hard to imagine that confusion may arise if someone were to attempt to use and register a famous mark for a completely new product category. Consumers might incorrectly assume some kind of affiliation with the famous brand or that the famous brand is expanding into new lines of products.

How to Mess Up Goods and Services

When identifying the products for a trademark application, the USPTO wants applicants to use preapproved descriptions as much as possible. You can use this searchable USPTO Trademark ID Manual to search your products and find pre-approved descriptions. Using properly crafted descriptions of goods and services in your trademark application minimizes delay. Well worded descriptions will help avoid non-substantive Office Actions.

We see trademark applications filed by others where the goods or services are fatally flawed. Here’s the problem. Depending upon the stage of the trademark filing, certain mistakes are irrevocable.

How much are USPTO trademark filing fees?

USPTO trademark filing fees are determined by the number of trademark classes, and not by the number of goods or services. So there is no extra cost to include several items if they all belong to a single class. The same applies to USPTO fees for filing a Statement of Use in an Intent-To-Use application.

Can you broaden the scope of your goods or services after filing?

No. Pay special attention to the initial identification of your goods or services because the identification is practically frozen once the application is filed. You cannot add more goods or services to a previously filed application. Clarifying certain items is allowed. You may also narrow a broad description (e.g., by specifying “kitchen accessories”). The general rule is that you cannot broaden the scope of an original identification of goods/services.

You would have to file a new trademark application to cover any new items.

Differences in acceptable goods/services between USPTO and WIPO (Madrid)

The USPTO may require more specific descriptions of certain products as compared to what was acceptable to WIPO in a Madrid Protocol application [see TMEP 1402.01(c)]. However, the international classification in a Section 66(a) Madrid application must be accepted by the USPTO and may not be changed.

Need help with your trademark application?

Reach out to patent and trademark attorney Vic Lin at or call (949) 223-9623 to see how we can help register your trademark.

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