In the United States, all trademarks must be filed under one or more of 45 unique trademark classes. Figuring out which class your brand falls under is an important step for every business owner, as it determines how far your intellectual property rights extend.
In this article, we’ll talk about Trademark Class 7, which broadly covers many different types of machines and engines.
Why Register a Class 7 Trademark?
Registering a trademark allows you to mark certain intellectual properties (IP’s) as unique to your business and brand. To do so, you must show that other individuals using those IPs would create customer confusion and be damaging to your business.
Once you’ve done that, having a trademark will let you fight against those cases of infringement in court. However, in order to count as infringement, the competing product or service must be in the same class as your trademark.
In general, this means that only businesses selling similar products or services risk trademark infringement.
Note that you can also file under multiple classes when you apply for your trademark. However, doing so is considerably more expensive than filing under a single class. Additionally, the USPTO will reject applications filed under obviously inappropriate classes.
Put another way, you can’t simply register your mark under every class to gain protections in each. You can only apply in the classes which specifically cover the products or services your brand offers.
What Goods are Covered Under a Class 7 Trademark?
Trademark Class 7 covers a wide range of machines and machine parts.
Note, however, that it only covers goods, not any services related to repairing or installing those goods. These services typically fall under either Class 37 (construction and repair services) or Class 40 (materials treatment) instead.
Pretty much any industrial machine that’s not a vehicle will fall under the Class 7 trademark classification. This includes everything from mining equipment to robotics.
Conveniently, the individual parts of those machines also fall under Class 7. In this way, businesses that make branded parts such as spark plugs would also fall into this class.
Large (Not Hand-Operable) Tools
While hand-operated tools generally fall under Class 8, most other tools are Class 7 trademark goods.
This includes most construction equipment, and any other large, immobile tool. In some cases (welding tools, for example), it won’t be obvious whether Class 7 or 8 is appropriate to file under.
In those situations, consider consulting with an attorney to see if double filing is appropriate.
Engines and Generators
Most generators, dynamos, and engines are also Class 7 trademark goods. One important exception is automobile-specific engines, which are registered as Class 12 goods.
Note that this also applies to large sized power generators and their parts, such as wind turbines.
Class 7 also covers any type of immobile vending machine. The USPTO does not draw a distinction between automated and non-automated vending machines.
Because the US trademark system is quite old, it’s also rather complicated.
For this reason, it’s common for first-time trademark filers to make the same mistakes when filing for a trademark. Here are a few things to watch out for, and what to do if you mess up.
Filing Under the Wrong Class
Many of the trademark classes seem similar at first glance. In this way, it’s common to file under one class when you really mean to go for another.
Always double-check with a trademark lawyer before filing—otherwise, you risk learning that you filed under the wrong class when you try to fight infringement in court.
For Class 7 trademark goods, the most common misfilings are:
- Machine Oils – All industrial oils and lubricants are Class 4 goods.
- Hand Tools – All types of hand tools are trademark Class 8 goods.
- Vehicle Parts or Engines – These are normally covered under Class 12 instead.
The good news is that filing under the wrong class is usually a pretty easy error to correct. If you file under an incorrect classification, you will normally get a document called an “office action” from the USPTO. This is essentially an opportunity to correct the mistake.
At this point you should definitely speak with a trademark attorney.
The other reason you might have your trademark application rejected is because there’s already a similar trademark on file. Because the USPTO doesn’t offer advice prior to filing, you’ll only find out about the other trademark when yours is rejected.
Fortunately, you can take matters into your own hands fairly easily. The USPTO trademark database is searchable for free online.
Spending a few hours looking for IP’s similar to your own can potentially save you months of time and hundreds of dollars in fees. Performing a trademark search, and evaluating the search results, is one of the key services provided by trademark attorneys.
If you do find a trademark similar to your own, you should also contact a trademark lawyer. An experienced trademark lawyer can tell you if you’re likely to be rejected, and how to change your product if needed.
Maintaining Your Trademark
Once your application is accepted, all that’s left to do is defend your trademark. Note that this step isn’t optional. If you fail to defend your trademark against infringement for too long, the court is likely to find that you have abandoned your trademark.
If that happens, you’ll have to start all over again.
On the plus side, having a registered trademark allows you to defend your brand from a large number of malicious business practices. In addition to pure infringement, you’ll also be able to fight against unauthorized re-selling, counterfeit products, and other deceptive marketing practices.
Note, however, that not all uses of your brand are necessarily infringement. Essentially, holding a trademark only protects your brand from situations that could cause actual confusion among customers.
Thus, the court does not consider comparisons, parodies, and informational uses of an IP to be infringement.
The single best practice in registering for a trademark of any class is to prepare before you apply. Consider which class you’re applying for carefully and search the database beforehand.
Most importantly, it’s always a good idea to speak to a trained trademark lawyer before spending money registering for a trademark.