All trademarks in the United States are regulated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). They sort trademarks into 45 different classes, which are used to categorize trademarks by industry. Choosing the right trademark class for your Intellectual Property (IP) will allow you to protect that trademark in court. On the other hand, choosing the wrong trademark class could create legal problems down the line.
In this article, we’ll talk about goods that fall under trademark class 30. This class includes many staple food products, such as bread, coffee, and sugar. We’ll discuss some of the legal issues surrounding trademarks for these products, as well as the benefits of trademarks in general.
Should I Apply for a Class 30 Trademark?
A trademark protects the branding of your product from infringement. This means that you can trademark logos, marks, names, and other traits unique to your product. However, you can’t generally trademark things like chemical formulas—those are covered by patents. Note that distinctive qualities of foods—for example, the Hershey Kiss’s “plume” shape—can be protected by trademarks.
With that in mind, it’s almost certainly worth it to apply for a trademark. In exchange for some paperwork and a relatively small fee, you’ll guarantee legal protection for your brand. In a cutthroat competitive environment like the food industry, imitators can spring up overnight. By applying for a trademark, you’ll give yourself the means to create a distinctive household name and brand.
However, a trademark only applies within the class of good that it’s filed under. That’s because trademarks are only supposed to apply where there’s a real chance of customer confusion. While you can file under multiple trademark classes, it’s more expensive to do so. The USPTO will also reject applications with inappropriate trademark classes.
Understanding Trademark Class 30 Goods
Class 30 is one of the broadest trademark classes, consisting of staple foodstuffs. It also applies to any and all packaging for those items. Prominent examples of trademark class 30 goods include:
- Breads of all kinds.
- Coffees and teas.
- Corn, rice, and cereal-based products.
- Cooking and baking ingredients, such as baking powder.
Because trademark class 30 is so broad, it can be easier to talk about goods which fall outside of it. Note that the following products of goods are specifically not trademark class 30 goods:
- Baby food, which is a class 5 good.
- Meat, dairy, and seafood products. These are all class 29 goods.
- Unprocessed grains and cereals, as well as agricultural products, are class 31 goods. This includes animal feed.
- Finally, beverages are either class 32 or 33 goods, depending on their alcohol content.
In addition, remember that trademark class 30 is a goods class. This means that it only applies to companies which exclusively produce finished products. If your brand has a service component, such as a restaurant or bakery, you’ll need to apply under an additional trademark class. For most food service trademarks, that’ll be class 43.
It is possible that your product could fall into one or more of these categories. If so, don’t be afraid to file for a trademark under both categories. However, be aware that this will mean both more recurring costs and more work moving forward. For that reason, you might want to consult a trademark lawyer before filing for a complex trademark.
Searching for Similar Trademarks
Once you know for sure that you want a class 30 trademark, it’s time to search the USPTO’s database. Fortunately, you can do so for free online. You’ll want to look for trademarks that seem similar to your own brand, in terms of either name or concept.
If you do find a similar trademark, its time to talk to your lawyer. Depending on the circumstances, they may recommend changing your branding or applying under a different trademark class. You may also be able to argue that the previous trademark holder has abandoned their trademark. However, this is generally an option of last resort.
Maintaining a Class 30 Trademark
Once you’ve applied, you should hear back from the USPTO within a few months. However, your work isn’t over yet. After you’ve gotten your trademark, you’ll need to protect it. This means challenging cases of infringement, either through cease and desist letters, or in court. If you fail to do so, you could lose your trademark.
In addition to infringement, you’ll need to remain on the lookout for unfair trade practices. These include things like creating knock-offs or counterfeits of your product, as well as unauthorized reselling. The good news is that holding a trademark protects you from these practices. Once again, however, failing to pursue legal action against unfair trade practice could mean losing your trademark.
You’ll also need to file regular reports to the USPTO on your trademark use. The first of these is due six years after your filing, with another due when you reapply in ten years. These reports should include proof that your brand is using the trademark.
Applying for a class 30 trademark is one of the smartest things you can do to grow your brand. By protecting your intellectual properties, you’ll create a distinctive commercial identity. This will help you stand out from the competition and remain memorable in a changing market.
Just make sure that you remain vigilant for infringement and unauthorized use, and consider consulting with a trademark lawyer. As long as you do that, your trademark can protect your brand long into the future.