Accurately Describing Goods/Services

Accurately describing your goods/services is critical to the validity of your trademark application and any resulting registration. Describing your goods/services incorrectly can be fatal.

Trademark Goods


If you use your trademark to sell your own brand of products, you are using the mark to identify goods.

Note that if you have an online store that only sells your own brand of goods to consumers, you are selling goods under the trademark, but you are not offering retail store services.

Trademark Services


If you render services for others (as opposed to selling your own brand of goods), then you are offering services. Some examples are legal services, retail store services, mental health services, etc.

Note that if you are using your trademark to sell third-party branded goods directly to consumers, you are actually rendering retail store services with respect to those goods.

Once you understand whether you’re selling goods or rendering services, check the Trademark ID Manual (link below) to review descriptions of goods/services that are pre-approved by the USPTO. 

There are 45 different classes of goods and services. Remember, trademark applications must identify the goods or services used or for which there is a bona fide intent to use the trademark. A US trademark application does not cover entire classes of goods/services, rather it only covers specific goods/services within a class that are listed in the application.

Note that the manual frequently has numerous descriptions that overlap or say the same thing in a slightly different way. Look for the most accurate description and also the broadest description that your product or service accurately falls in. If you have retained trademark counsel to help you with your filing, these descriptions will help your trademark attorney advise you as to the best identification(s) to use.

Example: If your product is a hair shampoo for babies, there are a few descriptions that could accurately describe your product: (1) Shampoos for babies, (2) Shampoos or (3) Hair care preparations. By retaining legal counsel to assist with your application, counsel can advise you as to the best description to use.

Search the Trademark ID Manual

Search for goods/services descriptions that the USPTO has pre-approved and which qualify for reduced government filing fees.

If you cannot locate an accurate description for all of your goods/services in the Trademark ID Manual, it is possible to create a “free form” description of goods/services. However, using a free form description requires using a more expensive application type that has a government fee of $350 per class (as opposed to a government fee of $250 per class if all goods/services are described using pre-approved descriptions from the ID Manual).