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Trademark Goods and Services

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At their core, goods and services are what you buy when you participate in the economy—they are items, experiences, and tasks that you sell to consumers. Understanding goods and services is crucial when filing for a trademark, as you will have to identify where your product lands on this spectrum.

Below, we detail the differences between goods and services, as well as how to identify them in your trademark application.

In this article, we'll cover:

What Are Goods?

Goods refer to material products that are sold to consumers. (Consumers might mean individuals, but can also mean businesses, schools, and governments, for example.)

Here are a couple ways to think about goods:

  • Goods and tangibility

Goods are usually tangible items, products you can physically hold. But the internet makes that a bit tricky—after all, does a digital download count as tangible? We can’t say, but it does count as a good.

  • Goods and ownership

Another way to identify goods is that they can typically be given to someone else after initial ownership. If you don’t like a new sweater, you can gift it to your friend. If you buy a new set of plates, you can donate your old ones.

Examples of Goods

Since a good refers to anything material that can be sold, the list is fairly endless. Here is a non-exhaustive list of goods:

  • Clothing
  • Automobiles
  • Kitchen gadgets
  • Books
  • Digital downloads
  • Houses
  • Weaponry
  • Pet supplies
  • Light bulbs
  • Gas station snacks
  • Movie theater popcorn

Basically: if you can see or hold an item, and are able to transfer ownership after you purchase it, it’s probably a good.

What Are Services?

A service refers to immaterial purchases made by a consumer. If someone else is providing you with an experience that you are paying for, it’s a service.

To help decide whether something’s a service, it can help to think about these concepts:

  • Services and tangibility

Services are intangible. They are acts that you experience.

  • Services and ownership

Ownership is a tricky concept when connected to services. While you do arguably own your education once you have a college diploma, or your newly limber muscles after a massage, you cannot transfer this ownership elsewhere. If you don’t like your massage, there’s no way to re-gift it. Once a service is rendered, it cannot be physically returned or undone.

Examples of Services

Much like goods, the amount of services available are endless. Every day, there is a new business selling a new thing that will shock the color out of your hair. (Did you know that you can rent professional wedding guests to attend your big day?) But in case you’re unsure, here are a few examples of services:

  • Legal consultations
  • House cleaning
  • Software licensing
  • Home repair labor
  • Speaker fees
  • Moving truck rentals
  • Tutoring
  • Movie theater tickets
  • Healthcare
  • Hair cuts

Ready to register your trademark? We can help you get the ball rolling with our Trademark Service.

Identifying Goods and Services on Your Trademark Application

The most beneficial part of understanding goods and services is being able to identify if your product is a good or service.

Federal trademark registration is a thorough and time-consuming process that gives trademark owners broad protection over their mark. One of the most important parts of your application is accurately defining your goods/services. Doing so will help you gain approval from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

So what do you need to know about goods, services, and your trademark application? You’ll need to learn about trademark classes, the different application types, and determine whether you’re selling a good, a service, or both.

How do you choose goods and services for a trademark?

Let’s take a trip to an amusement park as an example. Absolutely rife with purchases, how are you supposed to know which part is a good and which part is a service?

  • Season pass that grants you entrance to the park? That’s a service. You don’t get anything but the experience of the park, and you can’t take anything (but the memories) with you when you leave.
  • Overpriced but beloved memorabilia from the gift shop? That’s a good. You can keep that bad boy forever.

Think about your own product. Again, consider the consumer’s experience: is it an item or is it an experience? As illustrated by the amusement park example, remember that you might offer both goods and services.

How do I describe my goods and services in the trademark application?

There are two federal trademark applications—TEAS Plus and TEAS Standard. A main difference between the two is how you describe your goods/services.

When you use TEAS Plus, you are only allowed to use pre-approved descriptions. For TEAS Standard, you elect to write your own. Let’s take a closer look at what this means.

  • TEAS Plus goods/services description

Using a pre-approved goods/services description works for most trademark applicants. To find these descriptions, use the Trademark ID Manual. The descriptions are pre-written, so the choice for you is which you think most accurately, clearly, and holistically reflect the products promoted by your trademark.

To narrow your search, type in your products and identify which descriptions are a match for your offerings. Let’s say you’re applying to register a trademark for your spa. One possible pre-approved description is: “Day spa services, namely, nail care, manicures, pedicures and nail enhancements.” If your spa has an outside area, you may also want to include the pre-approved description, “Outdoor spa bath services.”

  • TEAS Standard goods/services description

For the TEAS Standard application, you get to write your own descriptions. This is either exciting or harrowing depending on your comfort with endless options and creative control. But if you sell specialized goods/services that aren’t adequately described in the ID Manual, you may not have a choice except to use this application.

For TEAS Standard goods/services descriptions, use language that the general public would easily understand and that completely describe your goods/services. Since federal registration runs your potential mark against all other registered marks, the USPTO needs to fully understand the scope of your mark’s potential use.

How do trademark classes relate to goods and services?

Trademark classes are 45 categories that help organize goods and services. There are 34 classes for goods and 11 classes for services. These classes range from fancy goods (Class 26) to natural agriculture products (Class 31) to telecommunication (Class 38) and everything in between.

Selecting the right class(es) for your trademark is just as important as including an accurate goods/services description. The ID Manual is a helpful resource when determining your classes. For example, searching for “spa” shows us that many spa services fall under Class 44: Medical, Beauty, and Agricultural.

It’s important to make sure your classes accurately reflect how your mark is used in commerce. Including any that are unrelated to your mark could result in your application being refused by the USPTO.

Can I include multiple descriptions and classes in my application?

Your trademark application can include multiple descriptions and classes. Registering under multiple classes comes with additional fees, though you can include as many descriptions within a single class as you’d like.

In other words, your base trademark application fee includes one class ($250 for TEAS Plus, $350 for TEAS Standard). Underneath that class, you can include as many descriptions as you want for no additional cost. Then, if you add another class, you can do so for an additional base fee. You can include as many descriptions related to that class as you’d like.

For example, let’s say you’re filing a TEAS Plus application with four classes and sixteen descriptions. This would be $1,000. If you are registering with four classes and four descriptions, it would still be $1,000.

Can I trademark both goods and services?

Yes, you can have one trademark that applies to both goods and services. Just like if you were to register under multiple goods or multiple services, make sure to choose the correct classes, apply accurate descriptions, and account for your multi-class fee.

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