If your company has an identifying logo, word, or phrase, you will want to protect it with a trademark. A trademark is a legal assurance that no one else can use your mark. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) approves trademarks in the United States. The USPTO divides trademarks into 45 different classes, each representing a different group of products or services. This article will discuss trademark class 38: telecommunications services.
Why Are There Trademark Classes?
There are thousands of trademarks that exist already, and more applications are submitted every day. Trademark classes allow the USPTO to approve different companies who have the same name, as long as they are in different classes and industries. For example, the USPTO can approve trademarks for both Dove soap and Dove ice cream. They are in different classes; therefore, they won’t be confused, and they aren’t in competition with each other.
When you apply for a trademark, the USPTO will require you to choose the correct class for your company’s product or service. You must be sure to choose the correct class, or your application will be rejected. If you need to file under more than one class, you can do so. For example, if you plan to sell leather shoes and leather furniture, you will file under class 25 (clothing) and class 20 (furniture). Just keep in mind that you will have to pay a fee for each class.
Trademark Class 38
There are trademark classes that have to do with products, and classes that have to do with services. No trademark class covers both products and services. Trademark class 38 is a service class that covers all telecommunications services.
“Telecommunications” refers to any service that allows one person to communicate with another by using one of their senses. This simply means that any service that allows one person to talk to another person, one person to send a message to another person, or one person to send a visual or audio message to another is in trademark class 38.
Communication services involving a phone, a cell phone, a pager, or a fax machine are in this category. Teleconferencing services and voice messaging services are in this class as well. Examples of trademarks in this category are the familiar companies, Verizon and AT&T.
Television and Radio Broadcasting
All broadcasting services are in this class. These include:
- Television broadcasting
- Cable television
- Radio broadcasting
- Radio communications services
- Wireless broadcasting
- Satellite transmission
Internet and Computer Communications
This involves all emails and transmission of any information or images over the computer. Any transmission of digital files or online forums and chatrooms are in this class as well. Even the online greeting cards you send are in class 38. Data streaming on computer or smart phone devices falls here too.
Telecommunication Equipment Rental
Facsimile machine rental, modem rental, and telephone and telecommunication equipment rental fall under this category. Companies that rent access time to global computer networks are in this class as well.
Telegraph and Telegram Services
It’s strange to go from data streaming to telegrams, but all communications services, old and new, are in the same class – class 38.
Related Items that Are Not in Class 38
Make sure the trademark class for your service is not in one of the other classes that are closely related to class 38. If you’re not sure whether your trademark is in class 38, consider one of these similar classes:
Telemarketing or sales over the telephone are not in class 38. Instead, they would fall under class 35.
Advertising services for use over the radio are in class 35, advertising and business services as well.
Entertainment that is NOT intended for communication over television, radio, or a computer would fall under trademark class 41, education and entertainment services.
Specimens for Class 38
For any trademark application, you will have to provide a “specimen” or example of the trademark in use. Even if your file under the “intent to use” application, you will eventually have to give them a specimen to get your trademark approved.
It’s tricky to supply a specimen for the trademark classes that have to do with services since there is no product to put a label on. But there are several ways that companies that provide services can show their identifying mark:
- Company letterhead or business cards with the service specified on them
- A screenshot of the company’s web page with the mark and a description of services the company provides
- Advertising and marketing materials: print ads, brochures, billboard pictures or a direct mail sample
- The audio sample of a radio advertisement
Choosing the correct trademark can be tricky. Hiring a trademark lawyer is the best way to make sure you are filing under the right trademark class and that you aren’t infringing on any other trademarks. If you violate either of those rules, your application will be rejected, and you’ll have to start the process again (and pay another fee.) An experienced trademark attorney will walk you through the process and make sure your application is correct.