1. The purpose of classification

Date Published

This Part of the Manual sets out the purpose of classification, guidelines for classification, restrictions applying to amendments, and examination practice.  Information on the evolution of the classification system is also included.

IP Australia uses the International Classification of Goods and Services, in which goods and services are allocated between 45 classes, each class covering a different category of related goods or services. This system was agreed to at the Nice Diplomatic Conference, and is referred to as NICE classification in this Manual. The system is primarily an administrative tool which simplifies searching for trade marks used or intended to be used on the same or related goods and/or services. Trade mark applications are made using the system, and the system is then used by Examiners when doing searches for the purposes of section 44 of the Act. These searches extend beyond the particular class or classes in which an application is made, and encompass a range of other classes, chosen because they cover related goods and services. These groupings of classes are referred to as cross search classes and are shown in Annex A6 to A12. The system is also used by trade mark owners or their agents when searching for trade mark registrations or applications which might conflict with their own trade marks.

A clear and accurate description of the goods and/or services claimed is an important aspect of any trade mark application, because it determines the scope of the application and of any resulting registration. Correct classification of the goods and/or services claimed is also important, because it facilitates accurate searching for conflicting trade marks. While IP Australia provides information on classification matters, the onus is on the owner or their agent to describe their goods and/or services correctly, and to apply for registration in the correct class(es).