The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) divides trademarks into 45 different categories, each representing a different product or service. Businesses apply for a trademark to legally protect their company’s identifying logo, word, or phrase. A trademark keeps anyone else from using your company’s identifying marks.
The USPTO is the government agency that approves all trademark applications in the U.S. When your company applies for a trademark, the USPTO will require you to declare which trademark classes your company should be in. This article will discuss trademark class 40 (treatment of materials services).
Why are there trademark classes?
Having different classes allows the USPTO to approve more trademarks. If two companies have the same name but are in different classes, they can still get approval for their trademarks. For example, the USPTO can approve a trademark for both “Delta” Dental Company and “Delta” Airlines since they are in different trademark classes. They are not related companies; therefore, they are not in competition and won’t be confused with each other.
A company can apply under more than one trademark. For instance, if a travel agency provides booking services for air and train travel, but also books hotel rooms, they will have to file under both class 39 (transportation and storage), and class 43 (hotels and restaurants). The company will also have to pay a fee for each class they file under.
Trademark class 40
This trademark class has to do with the treatment or transformation of materials. This “treatment” usually involves chemical or mechanical processing, but it can also include transformation of organic products. Here are some examples of services in trademark class 40:
Any company that produces energy is in this class. This also includes businesses that rent boilers, generators, air conditioners, and space heaters, since those things produce energy too.
Waste treatment and recycling
Burning, treating, or destroying trash for disposal is in class 40. Recycling services that sort and re-distribute recyclable materials fall under this class as well.
Air and water purification and treatment
This includes all businesses that provide air or water treatment services. Companies that purify or deodorize the air or treat and clean water are in class 40.
From old-fashioned blacksmithing to futuristic cryopreservation, all services that treat and change materials are in class 40. Some examples include:
- Gold plating
- Oil processing/refining
- Window tinting
- Timber felling and processing of lumber
- Pottery firing
- Cloth dying
Basically, trademark class 40 covers any service that treats or processes an item and changes the item in some way.
Leather and fur treatment
Conditioning of leather and fur fall under this category. Fur dying, waterproofing, moth-proofing and staining would be in this class, as well as all leather working and staining.
Manufacturing and assembly
These are the custom treatment jobs that may not come to mind right away. Glass blowing, clothing alterations, key cutting and knitting are all in the “custom services” category, which falls under class 40. Some other interesting services in this class are taxidermy and art or picture framing, since the person providing the services is changing the original product.
One oddball item that also falls under class 40 — the services of a dental technician. I guess you could argue that the technician is “changing” plaque-covered teeth to clean teeth!
Treatment of food and beverages
Companies that provide services that treat food and beverages are in this class. Food freezing, juicing, and crushing would land here. The smoking of food, like meat, would be there too. Food preservation (to keep it from spoiling) would be covered here as well.
The slaughtering of meat is considered “treatment” of the meat, and therefore puts it in class 40.
Related items that are not in class 40
Choosing the right trademark class for your product or service can be tricky. There are several classes, and many different products and services fall under each trademark class. Sometimes the choice is obvious, but sometimes the product or service is hard to categorize.
If you’re not sure whether your service is in trademark class 40, consider these related classes:
- While the treatment of fur and leather is in class 40, the fur and leather products themselves could be in trademark class 18 (leather products), or class 25 (clothing).
- Food and beverage preservation and treatment are in this class, but the actual food product could be in class 29 (meat and processed foods) or class 30 (staple food products).
- Forestry, horticulture, and the raising of live animals fall under class 31 (natural agricultural products). It’s the companies who provide treatment of those things that fall under class 40.
- Beverages are divided based on whether they contain alcohol. The two beverage classes are class 32 (light beverages) and class 33 (wines and spirits).
When you apply for a trademark with the USPTO, they will require you to choose which class(es) your product or service should be in. Choosing the correct class is important, since the USPTO will reject your trademark application if it’s filled out incorrectly. If that happens, you’ll have to start all over again and pay more fees.
It’s a good idea to take advantage of the services of a trademark lawyer during this process to make sure your application is filled out correctly and that you aren’t infringing on any other company’s trademark. A lawyer can keep your application from being rejected and help the application process go more quickly and smoothly.