The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) divides trademarks into 45 unique classes. Each class represents a specific category of products, goods, or services.
This article will cover Trademark Class 17, which broadly protects all forms of rubber and plastic products.
Registering a Class 17 Trademark
If you’re starting a new business, it’s important to register the intellectual properties associated with your business as trademarks. Any distinctive name, slogan, symbol, service or product can be registered as a trademark.
Trademarks legally prevent others from imitating your brand. However, this only applies to intellectual properties within the same class. For this reason, two companies with the same name can exist as long as the trademarks are not registered under the same class.
When you register, you’ll be asked to list which class your trademark belongs to. If your business sells a product made from rubber or plastic, you might want to consider filing under Class 17.
What is a Class 17 Trademark?
Before you register your trademark, you’ll need to know which class your good, product, or service belongs in. By registering for a Class 17 trademark, you’re stating that your intellectual property relates to a product, and that product is intended for businesses and professionals.
Since these guidelines are intentionally broad, here are a few examples of the types of products covered under Class 17.
Tubes and Hoses
Any and all plastic and rubber pipes, tubes, hoses, and fittings fall under this category.
This category also includes compressed air pipe fittings, connecting hoses, and reinforcing materials.
Seals and Fillers
This category includes asbestos packing, caulking materials, expansion joint fillers, and rubber stoppers. Class 17 also covers weatherstripping compositions. Keep in mind that all of these items must be made of rubber or plastic.
Floating anti-pollution barriers, cable insulators, glass wool for insulation, insulating oils, and insulating tape are all covered by Trademark Class 17.
This category also covers waterproofing and moisture proofing. Thermal insulation, non-conducting materials for retaining heat, and other compositions for retaining heat fall under this category.
Class 17 also covers shock absorbing and packing materials such as cushion stuffing, vibration dampers, and foam supports.
Plastic and Elastomer Items
Finally, plastic film (not for wrapping), plastic fibers, threads of plastic, and vulcanized fibers all fall under Class 17 as well. This also includes products such as cords of rubber, elastic yarn, latex, liquid rubber, synthetic rubber, and threads made of rubber.
What is Not Covered under Class 17?
There are actually several reasons you might not want to file under Class 17.
These reasons generally boil down into three issues:
- Your mark infringes on an existing trademark in Class 17
- Your mark relates to a service instead of a good
- Your product falls under a different class altogether
If there’s already a similar intellectual property registered under Class 17, then you should speak with an attorney about whether or not you need to rebrand.
If you aren’t 100% certain as to whether or not your trademark will infringe on the intellectual property of someone else, then you should talk to a lawyer first.
Intellectual Property Relating to Services
Class 17 only covers products, not services. If your company provides a service related to rubber or plastic goods, you might want to consider filing under a different class.
For example, if your business transforms or treats rubber, you’d file under Class 40 (Treatment of Materials). Similarly, if your company consistently deals with custom-made products for chemists or engineers, you might want to register under Class 42 (Science and Technology Services) as well.
Products in Other Categories
Since the guidelines are so broad, it can be tough to decide whether or not your product falls under Class 17 or a different category. For this reason, the USPTO makes note of a few “coordinated classes” which Class 17 applicants also consider filing under.
What Does a Trademark Do?
The main benefit of registering for a trademark is the fact that you can use it to fight trademark infringement.
In fact, you must fight trademark infringement, or else you will lose your trademark and all associated protections. The USPTO considers failure to defend your trademark as “abandoning” your trademark.
Another positive side to holding a registered trademark is using it to prevent “unfair competition.” This term covers imitations, knock offs, other forms of unauthorized selling, and malicious imitation.
As a general rule, there must be the potential for true confusion to claim trademark infringement. However, the majority of companies still attempt to defend their trademark in cases of minimal confusion
As with any new venture, your best bet is to do lots of research before you get started. Make sure to do a comprehensive search through the USTPO’s database and hire an attorney to help you do so.
Protecting and renewing your trademark are two constantly ongoing, time consuming processes. However, an experienced trademark lawyer can save you lots of headaches and help you protect your intellectual property at minimal cost.