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What is the International Nice Classification (NCL)?

In 1957, The World Intellectual Property (WIPO)  set up the Nice Classification (NCL). This system groups goods and services together using a single classification scheme. Since the agreement covers trademarks registered in several different languages, the system facilitates searches for marks that may need translation. NCL separates business activity into 45 classes: 34 for products and 11 for services.

There is a detailed taxonomy or tree-like listing of goods and services, compiled by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), within each class that further differentiates categories. These entries provide greater detail but are non-binding categories. Since the use of this classification scheme is widespread and complicated, seeking professional help to conduct a trademark search is well-worth considering.  USPTO and most countries worldwide have adopted the NCL protocol. There were 84 member countries3, as of January 2016, that abide by the Nice Classification agreement.

The Classification Agreement lists over 10,000 goods and 1,000 services. A new updated edition is released every five years. These editions include changes to the agreement over the five-year revision period. WIPO publishes new changes in the NCL involving specific classes annually. It released a new version on January 1, 2016. Trademark offices of countries who have adopted this agreement must include the NCL codes in their official documents. 

 

3 http://www.wipo.int/classifications/nice/en/faq.html 

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