The Nice Classification System: Avoid Likelihood of Confusion

Filed Under 'Folders'

Richard Rimer

August 25, 2023

The Nice Classification System: Avoid Likelihood of Confusion

Likelihood of Confusion

Almost every legal battle between brands relates to likelihood of confusion. That is, if someone starts selling widgets under brand ABCDEFG, will the public likely believe that these widgets come from the same source as the gizmos sold under the ABCEFG brand? If so, the second brand is said to infringe on the first brand. This test looks at many variables, but none are more important than-

(1) how similar are the brands, and

(2) how related are the goods/services.

This test is more art than science. Every trademark office uses the same system to classify every product or service sold.

The Nice Classification

The system is called The Nice Classification (NCL) and it is an international classification of goods and services. The NCL takes every good or service sold and places it into one of forty-five classes. The NCL is not as black and white as it may seem. There are two common misconceptions when it comes to classification. Many people assume that if two goods/services fall in the same class, they must be related. That is not always true. Another assumption is that if two goods/services fall in different classes, they are not related; Also not true! This is why it’s important to have legal counsel on your side. If you are not sure if your brand has a likelihood of confusion with another, don’t hesitate to reach out. 

Avoid The Risk of Likelihood of Confusion

The only way to determine the relatedness of items is to consider a number of factors. These range from whether the items are used together to whether it is common for the same company to sell both items. The phrase “but I didn’t know” is the reason I started my firm. I heard this phrase so many times from small companies when I worked for big firms and represented the large companies. These small companies were taking chances by operating in unknown conditions. This risk was not necessary, and I want to show them the way to certainty.

Likelihood of Confusion

My mission is to inform, educate and represent small and mid-sized companies in the world of intellectual property, and specifically brand rights. My purpose is to remove obstacles and reduce the friction that may prevent you from conducting business as you wish. Informing and educating are so important, because IGNORANCE IS NOT AN EXCUSE!