USPTO's Trademark ID Manual - what to know

USPTO's Trademark ID Manual - what to know

  • 10 June, 2024
  • Nyall Engfield

USPTO's Trademark ID Manual - what to know

The USPTO's Trademark ID Manual is a comprehensive listing of acceptable identifications of goods and services for use in trademark applications.
The URL for the USPTO Trademark ID Manual is here:
Here are some key things to know about the ID Manual:
    • Size and scope: The ID Manual contains a vast number of entries covering a wide range of goods and services. As of 2023, it included over 50,000 entries across the 45 international trademark classes. For example, as of 2021, there were over 580 entries just for different types of software.
    • Updates: The ID Manual is updated frequently, often on a weekly basis, to add new acceptable identifications as products and services evolve. The USPTO considers suggestions from the public for new entries, especially for emerging technologies. Proposed additions are reviewed by the Administrator for Trademark Classification Policy and Practice to determine if they should be included.
    • Specificity: The entries aim to strike a balance between being specific enough to accurately identify the goods/services, but not overly narrow. Applicants can use entries verbatim or craft their own descriptions, though non-standard wording may slow processing.
    • Classification: Entries are assigned to the appropriate international classes (1-45) to assist in searching and assessing filing fees. Some products/services fall under multiple classes by nature.
    • Purpose: Using ID Manual descriptions streamlines the application process by avoiding rejections for indefinite identifications. However, the Manual is not exhaustive - applicants must still ensure the entry accurately reflects their particular goods/services.
    • Accessibility: The ID Manual is freely searchable on the USPTO website. Applicants are encouraged to consult it to craft their goods/services identifications.

    How to use the USPTO ID Manual?

    Once you open the webapp, you'll see the welcome page with a Search Bar. There are three steps: i) Search using the normal commercial name, ii) Review the results, and ii) sort by Columns.

    Input the search value into the Search bar in the middle of the screen.

    An example search for "purses" results in a bunch of purse types in class 018 (class for bags) along with rental or purses in class 045, clasps for purses in class 026.

    The STATUS field shows whether the entry was "A" added to the manual, "M" modified since originally added, "X" an example (usually more specific) of the goods/services description, and "D" deleted (no longer used).

    The TYPE indicates whether the description refers to "GOODS" or "SERVICES."

    The TM5 column shows a "T" if the description is accepted by the Big 5 trademark offices - US, European Union, Japan, Korea, and China.

    Wildcard Searches in ID Manual

    To perform a single character wildcard search, use the “?” symbol.

    The single character wildcard search looks for terms that match the search criteria with the single character replaced. For example, to search for “gray” or “grey,” you can use the search:


    To perform a multiple character wildcard search, use the “*” symbol.

    Multiple character wildcard searches looks for zero or more characters. For example, to search for “paint,” “painting,” or “paintball,” you can use the search:


    You can also use the multiple character wildcard searches in the middle of a term. For example, to search for “grain” or “green,” you can use the search:


    Broad entries in the Trademark ID manual

    Broad entries can sometimes pose challenges because they cover a wide range of goods or services, making it easier for disputes over similarity to arise. Here are a few examples of broad entries in the ID Manual:

    1. "Computer software": This entry is often seen as too broad because it does not specify the type, function, or industry of the software. More specific entries like "computer software for database management" or "computer software for use in medical diagnosis" provide clearer distinctions.

    2. "Business services": This term is very general and can encompass a wide variety of services. More precise entries, such as "business management consulting services" or "business marketing services," offer better specificity.

    3. "Clothing": This entry is broad and includes a wide range of items. Narrower entries such as "athletic apparel," "children's clothing," or "women's fashion accessories" are more specific.

    4. "Retail services": Similar to business services, this term covers a broad spectrum. More detailed entries like "retail store services featuring electronic goods" or "online retail services in the field of home decor" provide greater clarity.

    5. "Educational services": This term is broad and can include various types of education-related activities. Specific entries like "educational services in the nature of beauty schools" or "providing courses of instruction at the college level" are more precise.

    6. "Entertainment services": This entry is very general and covers a wide range of activities. More specific entries, such as "entertainment services, namely, live musical performances" or "entertainment services in the nature of film production," provide better specificity.

    Using broader entries can make trademark applications more susceptible to objections or oppositions based on similarity to existing trademarks. Therefore, it's often advisable to use more specific descriptions when possible to clearly define the scope of the goods or services associated with a trademark.

    Importance of Accuracy in your Goods/Services ID

    It is extremely important to accurately describe your goods and services when filing a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for several reasons:

    Defines the Scope of Your Trademark Rights

    The description of goods and services in your trademark application defines the scope of your trademark rights. Your trademark rights only extend to the specific goods and services you list. If your description is too narrow, your trademark protection will be limited. If it's too broad and includes goods/services you don't actually offer, your trademark could be challenged or even cancelled.

    Affects Your Ability to Stop Others from Using Similar Marks

    An accurate description of goods/services is critical for determining if another party's trademark is confusingly similar to yours. The USPTO compares the goods/services in trademark applications to assess the likelihood of confusion. If your description doesn't precisely match what you offer, it weakens your ability to prevent others from using marks similar to yours in your actual field of business.

    Required for Trademark Registration

    The USPTO requires applicants to accurately specify the goods/services used in connection with the trademark. Failure to do so can prevent your trademark from being registered. The USPTO may issue an "office action" requiring clarification or narrowing of an unclear or overly broad description before allowing registration.

    Affects Your Trademark Maintenance Requirements

    After registration, trademark owners must periodically file maintenance documents confirming the mark is still used with all the goods/services listed. If some goods/services were inaccurately included in the original application, the registration could be cancelled unless the description is narrowed, resulting in lost trademark rights

    Is it better to be broad or narrow in the goods/services for your trademark?

    When defining the goods or services for your trademark using the USPTO ID Manual, it is generally better to be as specific and narrow as possible, although there are strategic considerations for both approaches. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each:

    Narrow (Specific) Approach


    1. Reduced Likelihood of Conflicts: Specific descriptions reduce the chances of conflicts with existing trademarks, making it easier to get your trademark approved.
    2. Clear Scope of Protection: A narrow description clearly defines the scope of your trademark protection, making it easier to enforce your rights.
    3. Lower Risk of Rejection: Narrow descriptions are less likely to be rejected for being too broad or vague, thus streamlining the application process.
    4. Better Defense Against Challenges: If your trademark is ever challenged, a specific description can make it easier to defend against claims of non-use or abandonment.


    1. Limited Protection Scope: A narrow description means your trademark protection is limited to specific goods or services, which might not cover future business expansions.

    Broad (General) Approach


    1. Flexible Coverage: Broad descriptions can provide more extensive protection, potentially covering a wider range of goods or services and accommodating future business growth.
    2. Market Flexibility: Allows the business to pivot or expand into related areas without needing additional trademark applications.


    1. Higher Likelihood of Conflicts: Broad descriptions increase the chances of encountering conflicts with existing trademarks, which can delay or prevent approval.
    2. Vagueness Issues: Broad descriptions can be deemed too vague, leading to rejections or requiring amendments that can prolong the application process.
    3. Enforcement Challenges: It can be more challenging to enforce rights against infringers if the trademark's scope is too broad and lacks specificity.

    Strategic Considerations

    • Initial Application: Start with a narrow, specific description to ensure a smoother approval process.
    • Future Expansion: Once the initial trademark is secured, consider filing additional trademarks to cover broader or related goods/services as your business grows.
    • Legal Advice: Consult with a trademark attorney to tailor the scope of your trademark application to balance protection and business needs.

    A narrow approach is generally better for reducing conflicts and ensuring clear protection, while a broad approach can offer more flexibility but comes with increased risks. The best strategy often involves a combination of both, starting specific and expanding as needed.

    How to make suggestions for the Trademark ID Manual

    The USPTO considers suggestions to update the USPTO Trademark ID Manual, especially to consider new technologies and services. Also, when a class is a little crowded (supplements, ahem!) more specific entries can be suggested. The USPTO will consider suggestions from the public for identifications or recitations to add to the ID Manual.

    To make suggestions for additions or amendments to the Trademark ID Manual, submit the following, via e-mail, to, or you can Contact Us to make the submission.(1) The name of the party submitting the proposed identification of goods or recitation of services;

    (2) An e-mail address for correspondence pertaining to the proposed identification of goods or recitation of services; and

    (3) The proposed identification of goods or recitation of services. The proposed identification of goods or recitation of services should be concise and should not exceed twenty-five words ( 25 word limit ). E-mail submissions should contain no more than three individual proposals.
    So in summary, the Trademark ID Manual is an extensive, regularly updated resource provided by the USPTO to guide applicants in properly identifying and classifying their goods and services, though crafting an appropriate and comprehensive description ultimately remains the applicant's responsibility. The USPTO welcomes suggestions for new entries as commerce evolves.
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