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(Circular No. 1/2020, dated 06 January 2020)

An update on the classification practices on a number of descriptions/specifications pertaining to service classes was recently announced by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) vide Circular No. 1/2020 dated 6 January 2020.

This circular is effective immediately and supersedes directions under previous circulars, affecting retail services; technical support services; ancillary services; computer services and distribution services.

A summary of the revision is appended below:

1. Retail services and other like services in Class 35

The Registry has consolidated the above as follows:

(a) The bringing together, for the benefit of others, of a variety of goods (excluding the transport thereof), enabling customers to conveniently view and purchase those goods.

Consequently, the Registry will now accept permutations of such services, including retail, wholesale, online retail or wholesale; and the bringing together thereof, as set out above.

(b) Sale of [goods of interest]

This has been clarified to be an unacceptable description of service as the act of selling primarily benefits the seller and is not regarded as a service delivered to third parties.

An example of an acceptable description of service in Class 35 would be “retail services relating to the sale of [goods of interest]”.

2. Technical consultancy services / Technical support services

While descriptions such as “technical consultancy services” and “technical support services” were objectionable under the previous practice, the Registry may now, on a case by case basis, accept “technical consultancy services” and “technical support services” in Class 42 by interpreting the term “technical” as referring to “technological”.

Nevertheless, it is to be noted that the subject matters of such descriptions will still need to be specified when the same are to be filed in other classes.

3. “Ancillary Services” / “Related Services”

Previously, the Registry would refuse descriptions containing “ancillary services”, “related services”, “included in this class” or “all in this class” or their equivalent, regardless of whether they are preceded or followed by a specific term, for lack of clarity.

Moving forward under the new practice, the Registry will accept descriptions containing “related services” or its equivalent, as long as the subject matter in which the services relate to is proper to the class applied for, such as “Radio broadcasting related services (Class 38)”; and “Services relating to transport reservation (Class 39)”.

That said, the term “ancillary services” continue to be rejected because “ancillary” means “additional” or “subsidiary” which renders the nature of the ancillary services vague.

4. Computer Services

“Computer services” per se were not accepted by the Registry previously as being vague without further qualification.

Effective immediately, the Registry may, on a case by case basis, accept “computer services” in Class 42. This is to be distinguished from “computer services in the nature of installation, maintenance and repair of computer or computer hardware”, which is classified in Class 37.

It is also important to note that when filed in classes other than Class 42, the description “computer services” is not acceptable because the exact nature of the services is unclear. As such, applicants are advised to specify the exact nature of the services claimed.

5. Distribution services

“Distribution services” per se was not acceptable previously as being too vague for classification and may involve services that overlap among Classes 35, 39 and 41.

Similarly, “distribution services (other than transportation)” in Class 35 was not accepted as the qualifier does not specify the nature of the intended services save that it does not include transportation.

Under the new practice, the Registry will accept “distribution services” in Classes 35, 39 and 41, by assuming that it relates to distribution services rendered in the contexts of the respective classes as follows:
• Distribution services for the purpose of advertising, retailing or wholesaling (Class 35);
• Distribution services by way of transportation of goods including the transport and supply of water, electricity and energy by pipeline and cable (Class 39);
• Distribution services relating to the process of making works of audio or visual production available to the public (Class 41).

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require any further clarification or assistance arising from the foregoing.