It’s time to resume our Questions & Answers blog post series! I really hate when so many good questions/topics get buried in the long comments threads, so starting from now, I will try to regularly publish the best questions and answers in a separate blog post.
In today’s post, we’re talking about trademarks. I have previously talked about the best time to register a trademark for your Amazon business, as well as the common trademark scams and pitfalls people encounter during the trademark registration process.
But today, I want to talk specifically about trademark CLASSES and what you, as an Amazon seller, need to know about them.
Why do you need to register a trademark at all?
The answer is: you don’t!
You can sell on Amazon WITHOUT a registered trademark. Many sellers do it this way and it can still work just fine, but you have to understand that if you’re following this path, you’re leaving a lot of money and opportunity on the table.
Here’s why: only with a registered trademark can you get into Amazon’s Brand Registry, which unlocks all of the following features:
- Sponsored Brand ads (formerly known as Headline ads)
- Video ads
- Amazon stores
- Use of a brand name in the listing
- A+ Content (enhanced listing descriptions with images, formatted text, tables, etc.)
These are MASSIVE advantages, and if you’re serious about making this Amazon business thing work, you will want to have access to all of these features. Yes, you can start selling on Amazon without being brand registered, but in the long term, you should always have a plan in place to register a trademark and get into Amazon’s Brand Registry.
Anyways, going back to the trademark classes, this question came from Shelly’s comment under my previous trademark blog post:
Thank you so much for this valuable article!
So, reading this, it seems like it doesn’t matter what class we choose for the trademark. However, in our case, we’re a website selling goods from other sellers and our own branded products, so we wanted to trademark for “services” for “online retail services featuring home decor”.
Would this be ok for Amazon’s Brand Registry, or do you think we should trademark for a specific goods class, for example, “kitchen utensil crocks”?
I’m just worried that Amazon may not approve if our trademark is for “services” and not “goods”.
Thank you so much!
This is a VERY good question, and it’s one that will apply to many Amazon FBA sellers who want to sell in different niches and may struggle with the trademark class selection process. So, without further ado, let’s get straight into it!
What is a trademark class?
When you register a trademark, the trademark registrar (IPO in the UK, but the same principles apply to other countries) asks you what goods classes you want to apply for.
Intellectual Property Offices worldwide use a trademark classification system that groups similar goods or services into 45 different classes. This is often referred to as the “Nice Classification” system.
Each class contains a list of pre-approved terms. These cover all the goods or services included in that class.
- Goods are listed in classes 1 to 34
- Services are listed in classes 35 to 45
Here are some examples of available classes, so you can better understand how this works:
- Class 4 – Industrial oils and greases; wax; lubricants; dust absorbing, wetting and binding compositions; fuels and illuminants; candles and wicks for lighting.
- Class 35 – Advertising; business management; business administration; office functions.
So, when you register a trademark, you simply need to find the class that best describes the goods or services you will provide.
With 99% of Amazon businesses, it will be goods and not services, so you would pick a class from 1 to 34.
So far, it’s all pretty clear, right? Yes, this is super simple stuff and shouldn’t cause much trouble.
The confusion starts when your brand name covers multiple classes OR, as in Shelly’s case, when you sell both physical products and also provide services. Do you need to register multiple trademarks? Can you do that?
How to Register a Trademark
in MULTIPLE Classes!
Yes, absolutely. You can register your trademark in as many classes as you want—even all 45 if that makes sense for your business. But there are two downsides to this:
Each extra class costs extra money. To be specific, in the UK, each extra class you apply in will cost you £50 extra. So, registering in 45 classes will set you back more than £2000.
Each extra class increases the chances of opposition. Opposition is when someone else (already a registered trademark owner) objects to your registration. This is something you want to avoid at all costs because it costs a lot of money (in legal fees) to deal with such objections.
Ideally, you want your trademark application to go through without anyone opposing it.
The more classes you have selected in your registration, the higher the chances of someone opposing it—even from industries that are not directly related to you.
Knowing all this, I wouldn’t really recommend registering for extra classes, unless you absolutely want to do so from a long-term business perspective. By that, I mean, if you plan on selling in two or three niches and have come up with an amazing brand name and have long-term plans to grow the business outside of Amazon AND potentially sell the brand one day, then yes, it makes sense to invest that extra money to get extra IP.
IMPORTANT: You can select multiple classes when you initiate the trademark registration process, but you can’t add extra classes later on when your trademark is already registered.
If you want to add extra classes later on, you will have to basically register a new trademark by filing a new registration application and going through the opposition period again. So, whatever you do, make sure you make your decision about which and how many classes you want to register before you start the whole process.
But for most Amazon sellers, one trademark class is all you need because you’re just registering that trademark to get into Amazon’s Brand Registry. You want this process to be fast and cheap and have the lowest risk of anyone opposing your registration.
The good news is that Amazon doesn’t care about your trademark class. They won’t check it, and they don’t have any requirements about such classes. All they care about is whether you have a registered trademark or not and whether you have branded your product with that trademark.
So, to answer Shelly’s question directly: No, it doesn’t matter which class you register your trademark for because Amazon doesn’t have any requirements on this.
But, as you have an online store and do work in two directions (retail and private label), I would still recommend that you register in both classes. This extra IP protection can only benefit you in the long term, and it won’t be that expensive to add an extra class to your registration.
I hope this helps! If you have any further questions about trademark classes, feel free to leave them below the post. Even though trademarking is a complex topic, I will try to help you out or point you in the right direction so you can find more qualified support.
If you have any other questions you would like me to cover in future Q&A posts as part of this series, please contact me via the helpdesk here.