All trademarks in the United States fall under at least one of 35 categories. This system of trademark classes insures that businesses in the same sectors remain distinct from one another in branding. By doing this, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) lessens customer confusion, and promotes fair competition between companies.
However, all of this is dependent on trademark applicants filing under the correct trademark class. To that end, this article is going to talk about how we define class 13 trademark goods, which include firearms, fireworks, and explosives.
Why Register a Class 13 Trademark?
When you register your intellectual property (IP) as a trademark, you claim it as an essential, unique part of your brand. Infringement is when another company imitates those aspects in a way likely to cause customer confusion. Having a trademark will let you combat infringement in court. Names, branding, packaging, and individual products can all be registered this way.
Note, however, that you can only fight cases of infringement within your trademark class. Thus, if you register a class 13 trademark, you won’t be able to take a car company to court for having the same name as your business. That’s why choosing the right trademark class to register under is so important.
Many IP holders choose to file under multiple trademark classes. This has the advantage of allowing you to cover multiple bases, especially if you plan on expanding your brand down the line. However, it’s also significantly more expensive than filing under a single trademark class. Additionally, USPTO will reject proposals that seem engineered to game the system by applying to obviously inapplicable trademark classes.
What are Class 13 Goods?
Class 13 is a goods-based trademark class. This means that if your company offers any type of service, you’ll want to register elsewhere as well.
The goods included under trademark class 13 fall into just a few different categories:
Weapons and Ammunitions
All forms of personal firearms and ammunitions fall under class 13. This includes unconventional and non-lethal munitions, such as rubber bullets. It also includes firearm parts, including cosmetic accessories.
In addition to firearms, many types of explosives fall under the class 13 trademark category. Essentially, any sort of explosive with military applications, such as missiles or hand grenades, will be trademarked under this class.
Fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices are class 13 trademark goods. This includes explosive illuminants like flares or fog signals.
Some non-military explosives also count as class 13 trademark goods. Mining explosives, for example, should be registered under this class of trademark. Note that this includes the individual parts and pieces of explosive devices, such as blast caps or fuses.
Because there are so many specific products and goods covered under the class 13 category, it is common for IP holders to make mistakes in registering their trademarks. For that reason, the USPTO lists certain other classes as “coordinated.” This simply means that IP holders registering under one category should consider also registering under another.
For class 13 trademark goods, the coordinated classes are:
- Class 28 (Games and Sporting Goods). Accessories for hunting firearms frequently straddle the line between class 13 and 28. For that reason, it’s a good policy for the producers of such goods to file under both.
- Class 35 (Advertising Businesses and Services). If your business has a significant advertising or branding component, you might consider filing those aspects of your brand under class 35.
- Class 42 (Science and Technology Services). Many weapons and pyrotechnics manufacturers are also paid for their research services and should file under class 42.
- Class 45 (Legal and Security Services). If your business has a private security component, don’t forget to file under class 45 as well.
Fortunately, if you forget to file under one or more classes, it’s easy to add more later.
Maintaining your Trademark
Once you’ve applied for a class 13 trademark, you’ll need to take the time to maintain it. This means answering challenges to your trademark as they arise. Needless to say, having an experienced trademark lawyer will make this step much easier.
In addition to what we usually think of as infringement, your trademark gives you protection from a variety of unfair business practices. These include counterfeiting, unauthorized reselling, and many other types of false representation.
Note, however, that some uses of your trademarked materials are still protected under the law. This is called “Fair Use.” It refers to practices that are unlikely to result in confusion on the part of the consumer. They include many types of nominal use (saying the name of your product), as well as comparative use and parody. If you are unsure of whether or not another’s use of your IP is fair or not, talk to your trademark lawyer.
Applying for a trademark is a huge step for any business. That’s why it’s important to prepare as much as you can beforehand. At best, mistakes during the trademark registration process will waste your time and money—at worst, they can prevent you from holding intellectual property vital to your business. By making careful plans, informing yourself, and contacting a trademark lawyer beforehand, you can negotiate this difficult legal area to your company’s benefit.