7.3. Classification: Finding the right class

Date Published

As part of doing the formalities assessment, the formalities officer is required to make the classification determination. This decision, while primarily based on the product name and representations, can take into account all information included in the application.

If there is an examination later, the examiner will check again to make sure the product has been classified correctly. Rather than assuming that (as is nearly always the case) the formalities officer chose the correct classification, the examiner should make a fresh assessment of what class(es) they need to search to find the same/similar products and designs.

The following general remarks, included in the Locarno Classification portal, provide guidance on how products may be classified.

A. The titles of the classes and subclasses provide a general indication as to the area to which the goods belong. Some goods may be covered by more than one such title. It is therefore advisable to consult the Alphabetical List to make sure of the classification of various goods.

B. Explanatory notes relating to a class are not repeated in the subclasses which they concern. It is therefore advisable to consult them when studying the notes appearing in the subclasses themselves.

C. In principle, goods are classified first according to their purpose and subsidiarily, if this is possible, according to the object that they represent. This latter classification is optional.

D. Where there is no special classification provided for goods intended to form part of another product, those goods are placed in the same class and subclass as the product of which they are intended to form part, if they cannot normally be used for another purpose.

​​​​​​​E. Goods, which are multipurpose composite objects are, with the exception of multipurpose composite pieces of furniture, placed in all the classes and subclasses that correspond to each of the intended purposes.

Classification process

  1. Check that the product name in the application is consistent with the representations, and vice versa.
  2. Briefly search the Register (Australian Designs Search) for the product. This will give you an idea of what the classification should be. You may need to translate the product name supplied by the applicant to a more generic form – e.g. ‘oral interpersonal communication device’ to ‘telephone’.

Check the Australian Designs Classification Codes to make sure a proposed classification determination is suitable.

Less straightforward cases

Where you cannot find what class a product should be classified in based on the name given in the application, try searching using:

  1. Another word: find another word that describes the product shown in the representations and search using that word. For example, if the name given is ‘footwear’ and the representation shows a shoe, search ‘shoe’. If the name is ‘storage furniture’ and the representation shows a cabinet, search ‘cabinet’.
  2. A similar word: find the name of a similar product and search using that word. For example, if the name given is ‘seat’, try searching ‘chair’. If the name given is ‘timepiece’, try searching ‘watch’ or ‘clock’.
  3. Purpose: you can use the purpose given in the application to find a classification. Use the Locarno ‘list of classes and subclasses with explanatory notes’ to find the class. Then you can look at the ‘list of goods in class order’ to find similar products.
  4. Owner: try searching the owner’s earlier designs for similar types of products.
  5. Statement of newness and distinctiveness: if the application includes a statement of newness and distinctiveness, see if it contains more details that might help you find the right class.
  6. Precedent: if the application is a convention application, it may be helpful to research how the claim was classified in the convention country.

See Cases of doubt to find out what to do if the correct classification is still unclear.


Once you have classified the product into a class and subclass, check whether the subclass has been divided further into a set of sub-subclasses.

If it has, go through each sub-subclass and (using the same process as for the class and subclass) see if one suits the product. If not, it goes in the ‘Z’ sub-subclass (also referred to as ‘NES’, meaning ‘not elsewhere specified’).

See for summaries of what is in each sub-subclass.

Amended Reasons

Amended Reason Date Amended