New guidance on trade mark classification of emerging technologies

IP Australia have released new guidance on classification of emerging technologies in trade mark applications. Here's where you can learn more.

IP Australia has developed guidance on the trade mark classification of goods and services relating to emerging technologies.

Like many global Intellectual Property (IP) Offices, IP Australia has observed a surge in trade mark applications relating to:

  • Virtual goods
  • Metaverse
  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
  • Blockchain.

This guidance aims to clarify our practice relating to the classification of these emerging technologies in trade mark applications.

For example, a claim for virtual goods or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) alone in Class 9 won't be accepted without further clarification. Applicants are required to specify the exact nature of the virtual goods or NFTs. Examples of acceptable claims in Class 9 include downloadable virtual clothing and downloadable digital music files authenticated by non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The guidance also addresses the classification of services provided in virtual environments (such as a metaverse). We're taking an approach which considers the impact of the virtual service in the real world. For example, a virtual restaurant appearing in an online environment doesn't provide physical food because the avatar is consuming virtual food. This service would therefore be classified in Class 41 as an entertainment service, rather than a Class 43 restaurant service.

Our classification practices will continue to evolve to meet the needs of customers in this fast-moving field. We're closely monitoring emerging global trends and will continue to engage with other IP Offices for international consistency.

Read our guidance document

This guidance is also available in Part 14 of the IP Australia Trade Marks Office Manual of Practice and Procedure.

To see what else we're doing in the field of emerging technologies, check out our explorative work on generative AI and the IP System.