About the Locarno Classification

A diplomatic conference, to which all the countries that were members of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property were invited and which was held in Locarno (Switzerland), adopted, on October 8, 1968, the Locarno Agreement Establishing an International Classification for Industrial Designs (Locarno Classification).

The Locarno Classification comprises:

  • a list of classes and subclasses;
  • an alphabetical list of goods which constitute industrial designs, with an indication of the classes and subclasses into which they fall;
  • explanatory notes.

The original list of classes and subclasses was attached to the Locarno Agreement when it was adopted.

The Locarno Agreement set up a Committee of Experts, in which each contracting country is represented. The Agreement empowered the Committee to make “amendments” or “additions” to the original list of classes and subclasses, to establish the alphabetical list and the explanatory notes (which were not established in the diplomatic conference), and to amend and supplement each and any of the three parts (list of classes and subclasses, alphabetical list of goods, explanatory notes) of the Locarno Classification.

Use of the Locarno Classification

The Locarno Classification is “solely of an administrative character” and does not bind the contracting countries “as regards the nature and scope of the protection afforded to the design in those countries” (Locarno Agreement, Article 2(1)).

The Locarno Agreement requires the industrial property office of each contracting country to “include in the official documents for the deposit or registration of designs, and, if they are officially published, in the publications in question, the numbers of the classes and subclasses of the international classification into which the goods incorporating the designs belong” (Article 2(3)). Recommendations of the Committee of Experts deal with the manner in which the classes and subclasses should be indicated in the said documents and publications.

Besides the competent offices of the contracting countries, the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the International Bureau of WIPO also use the Locarno Classification in their registers and in the publications they issue.

Revisions and editions of the Locarno Classification

The Locarno Classification has been revised several times by the Committee of Experts. The current (eleventh) edition incorporates all the revisions made in and before October 2015. It contains 32 classes and 219 subclasses, with explanatory notes, as the case may be.  The alphabetical list of goods, which contains 5,167 entries in English, is presented in alphabetical order irrespective of the class to which each good belongs, as well as in the order of classes and subclasses, alphabetically under each subclass.

The authentic versions of the Locarno Classification, in English and French, are published by the International Bureau of WIPO online.

The eleventh edition was published in June 2016 and entered into force on January 1, 2017. It replaces the previous editions.