The Vienna Classification which originated from the Vienna Agreement (1973) is an international classification of the figurative elements of marks (more on the Vienna Agreement and classification can be found here and more on India’s accession to the Vienna agreement could be found here). The first edition of the said Classification was published in 1973, with the Agreement effective from 1985. The countries that are parties to the said Vienna Agreement can apply the Classification either on a stand-alone basis or along with their respective national classification.

Trademarks will usually either be a word mark or a logo/device mark. As you must be aware, the first step to registering a trademark is to perform a search to ensure there are no similar marks in the same class with similar class specifications, as the proposed mark. So, what if the said trademark in question is a device mark? Generally, a device mark can be a logo, a combination of words and logos, pictures or drawings, etc. Thus, while conducting a trademark search for the same, it becomes very difficult to go through every class to find out a similar mark.

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Therefore, to facilitate easier trademark search for a logo/device mark and also exchange of documents at the international level (if and once a Vienna Code is assigned to your mark by the respective Registry where it is registered, the same is acknowledged and recognized by the Registry of any other country where you may be seeking its protection), the concept of a Vienna Image Search came into the picture.

The Vienna Classification constitutes a hierarchical system wherein the figurative elements of a trademark are classified from a general perspective to a particular form by dividing such elements into categories, divisions and sections. Each category, division and section is assigned a number according to a special coding system.  Currently, there are 29 categories. Vienna classification can be accessed here.

For a better understanding, let’s take for example a trademark application that is filed for a mark consisting of a star. In that case, we would type our keyword, “Star” in the search column and it will list down all the categories that cover STAR in it.

Check each category and choose all which are applicable to your situation. Then take the code and use it to search the Indian trademark database. Another thing to remember while using the Vienna Codes to search the Indian Trademark database is the way we read the codes. For example if the Vienna code we want to search is 1.1.2 , we will input that as  010102, if the Vienna code is 1.11.10 we will input that as  011110 as we require a 6-digit code to conduct the search. Enter the class you want to search your mark and hit enter and you will get the desired results.

The Vienna Classification has been through a series of editions and we are right now in the eighth edition which came into force in January 2018  replacing the previous editions.

This article has been authored by Prachi Jain.