A new 11
th edition of the Nice Classification came into force on 1 January 2017. It introduces 334 new terms and amendments to fifteen class headings (classes 3, 6, 10, 14, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24, 26, 28, 31 and 45) as well as amendments to 22 explanatory notes.
The UKIPO has provided a helpful guide to the changes (available
here). The changes this time around are relatively limited, with no new classes being added and no major reclassifications.
The lack of major changes means that the Nice Classification is still much easier to navigate for traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses than for innovative digital businesses. Service-based businesses which interact with their customers online will still find themselves having to cover multiple classes in order to adequately protect their marks, or pick one class and hope that they have the right one. When, on top of that, different national registries take different approaches to the classification of online services, this creates unnecessary risk and cost for businesses. Whilst any updating of the system is welcome, it’s to be hoped that with the next edition, the authors of the Nice Classification might take some bolder steps to rationalise the system for modern digital businesses.
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