Frequently Asked Questions: Vienna Classification

The Vienna Classification is an international classification system used to classify the figurative elements of marks. The complete title of the Classification is International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks.

The Vienna Agreement is the WIPO-administered multilateral treaty that establishes the Vienna Classification. It was signed on June 12, 1973, entered into force on August 9, 1985 and was amended on October 1, 1985.

The competent offices of the countries party to the Vienna Agreement are required to include in the official documents and publications relating to the registration of marks the numbers of the categories, divisions and sections of the Classification assigned to the figurative elements of those marks.

Use of the Vienna Classification by national offices has the advantage of filing applications for the registration of marks containing figurative elements codified according to a single classification system. This procedure facilitates trademark anticipation searches and obviates substantial reclassification work when documents are exchanged at the international level.

In January 2019, 33 States were party to the Vienna Agreement. The list of contracting parties is regularly updated.

Around 60 offices in the world apply the Vienna Classification. This number includes member as well as non-member countries. In addition, three regional organizations, namely the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), the Benelux Organisation for Intellectual Property (BOIP) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), use the Vienna Classification. The International Bureau of WIPO also applies the Vienna Classification in the framework of the Madrid System for the international registration of marks.

The Classification constitutes a hierarchical system that proceeds from the general to the particular, classifying all figurative elements into 29 categories, further divided into divisions and sections. Explanatory notes have been introduced where appropriate.

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

The authentic versions of the Vienna Classification (in English and French) are published by WIPO online.