World Intellectual Property Organization

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is the Nice Classification (NCL)?
  2. What is the Nice Agreement?
  3. What are the obligations of the countries party to the Nice Agreement?
  4. What are the advantages of applying the NCL?
  5. Which are the contracting States of the Nice Agreement?
  6. How many trademark offices use the NCL?
  7. What is the structure of the NCL?
  8. Is it updated?
  9. What is the difference between versions and editions of the NCL?
  10. How is it published?
  11. What is "NicePub"?
  12. What is the "Taxonomy"?
  13. Does the "Taxonomy" form part of the NCL?
  14. Where can I order the NCL?

What is the Nice Classification (NCL)?

It is an international classification system used to classify goods and services for the purposes of the registration of marks.

What is the Nice Agreement?

The Nice Agreement is the WIPO-administered multilateral treaty that establishes the Nice Classification. It was signed in Nice, on June 15, 1957 and entered into force on April 8, 1961. It was revised in Stockholm on July 14, 1967, and in Geneva on May 13, 1977 and modified on September 28, 1979.

What are the obligations of the countries party to the Nice Agreement?

The competent offices of the countries party to the Nice Agreement are required to include in the official documents and publications concerning the registration of marks the numbers of the classes to which the goods and services for which the mark is registered belong.

What are the advantages of applying the NCL?

Use of the Nice Classification by the competent trademark offices has the advantage of filing trademark registration applications with reference to a single classification system. The drafting of applications is thereby greatly simplified as the goods and services to which a given mark applies will be classified in the same way in all countries that have adopted the Classification. Moreover, as the Classification exists in several languages, applying the indications of goods and services of the alphabetical list can save applicants a considerable amount of translation work when filing a list of goods and services in a language other than that of the office of origin.

Which are the contracting States of the Nice Agreement?

In January 2014, 84 States were party to the Nice Agreement. The list of contracting parties is regularly updated.

How many trademark offices use the NCL?

Around 150 offices in the world apply the Nice Classification. This number includes member as well as non-member countries. In addition, four regional organizations, namely the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), the Benelux Organisation for Intellectual Property (BOIP) and the European Union Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (OHIM), use the Nice Classification. The International Bureau of WIPO also applies the Nice Classification in the framework of the Madrid System for the international registration of marks.

What is the structure of the NCL?

The Nice Classification consists of a list of classes together with explanatory notes and an alphabetical list of goods and services. There are 34 classes of goods and 11 classes of services. The class headings describe in very broad terms the nature of the goods or services contained in each class. The explanatory notes of a given class describe in greater detail the types of products or services included in that class. The most detailed level of the Classification is the alphabetical list which contains around 10,000 indications of goods and 1,000 indications of services.

Is the NCL updated?

In order to keep the Nice Classification up to date, it is continuously revised. A new edition is published every five years and, as from 2013, a new version of each edition is published annually. The revision is carried out by the Committee of Experts set up under the Nice Agreement. All States party to the Agreement are members of the Committee of Experts.

What is the difference between versions and editions of the NCL?

Versions are published and enter into force annually. Each new version of the Classification includes all changes adopted by the Committee of Experts since the adoption of the previous version. “Changes” consist in adding new goods and services to, and deleting goods and services from the alphabetical list, and modifying the wording of the indications of goods and services, the class headings and the explanatory notes.

Editions are published and enter into force usually every five years. Each new edition of the Classification includes all changes and amendments adopted annually by the Committee of Experts during the whole five-year revision period. “Amendments” means any transfer of goods or services from one class to another or the creation of any new class.

How is the NCL published?

The authentic versions of the Nice Classification (in English and French) are published online by WIPO. The 10th edition, published in June 2011, was the last printed edition.  It comprised two parts. Part I contained a list of goods and services set out in the alphabetical order of goods on one side and of services on the other side. Part II contained the list of goods and services ordered by classes, in alphabetical order within each class. There was also a printed bilingual (English/French) edition. As from the 2013 version of the 10th edition, WIPO published the Nice Classification online only.

What is "NicePub"?

"NicePub" is the current online official publication of the Nice Classification.  It went live at the beginning of 2013.  It contains the current edition-version of the Classification as well as links to the previous editions (1 to 10-2013). 

What is the "Taxonomy"?

The "Taxonomy" is a tree structure that has been developed within each of the 45 classes of the Nice Classification by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (OHIM) and the national trademark offices of the European Union with the collaboration of WIPO.  In NicePub, the view mode "Taxonomy" shows the taxonomy structure, and the view mode "Full" shows the goods and services of the Nice Classification, arranged according to the taxonomy.

Does the "Taxonomy" form part of the NCL?

Although based on the Nice Classification, the Taxonomy does not form part of the Classification nor binds the countries of the Nice Union in any way.  According to Article 1(2) of the Nice Agreement, the Classification “consists of (i) a list of classes, together with, as the case may be, explanatory notes; (ii) an alphabetical list of goods and services…with an indication of the class into which each of the goods or services falls.” The Taxonomy is available in NicePub only as an additional tool that can be used to organize large databases of goods and services by concepts and so to assist users in searching adequate terms for the specification of goods and services. 

Where can I order the NCL?

The printed 10th edition of the Nice Classification, published in June 2011, in English and French, can be ordered:

By mail:
World Intellectual Property Organization

Outreach Services Section
34, ch. des Colombettes
Case postale 18
CH-1211 Geneva 20
Switzerland

Telephone: +41 22 338 91 11
Fax: +41 22 740 18 12

By E-mail: publications.mail@wipo.int
 
Please note that, as from the 2013 version of the 10th edition, the Nice Classification is available online only.  The printed version has been discontinued.

 

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