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Frequently Asked Questions: Vienna Classification

The Vienna Classification is an international classification system used to classify the figurative elements of marks. The complete title of the Classification is International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks.

The Vienna Agreement is the WIPO-administered multilateral treaty that establishes the Vienna Classification. It was signed on June 12, 1973, entered into force on August 9, 1985 and was amended on October 1, 1985.

The competent offices of the countries party to the Vienna Agreement are required to include in the official documents and publications relating to the registration of marks the numbers of the categories, divisions and sections of the Classification assigned to the figurative elements of those marks.

Use of the Vienna Classification by national offices has the advantage of filing applications for the registration of marks containing figurative elements codified according to a single classification system. This procedure facilitates trademark anticipation searches and obviates substantial reclassification work when documents are exchanged at the international level.

The list of contracting parties to the Vienna Agreement is regularly updated.

Around 60 offices in the world apply the Vienna Classification. This number includes member as well as non-member countries. In addition, three regional organizations, namely the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), the Benelux Organisation for Intellectual Property (BOIP) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), use the Vienna Classification. The International Bureau of WIPO also applies the Vienna Classification in the framework of the Madrid System for the international registration of marks.

The Classification constitutes a hierarchical system that proceeds from the general to the particular, classifying all figurative elements into 29 categories, further divided into divisions and sections. Explanatory notes have been introduced where appropriate.

In order to keep the Vienna Classification up to date, it is continuously revised by the Committee of Experts set up under the Vienna Agreement. It is up to the Committee to determine the revision periods. Since the first edition published in 1973, editions are published and enter into force usually every five years.

The authentic versions of the Vienna Classification (in English and French) are published online by WIPO. The paper publication has been discontinued. The 7th edition, published in June 2012, was the last printed edition. Since the 8th edition, WIPO publishes the Vienna Classification online only.

The complete Vienna Classification is available only via Internet; there is no printed publication of the Vienna Classification. However, the Internet publication allows for printouts of parts of the Vienna Classification, through the Download and IT Support area.

The Vienna Classification is available for downloading in PDF and XML formats from the Download and IT Support area and in Word format from the Electronic forum with the modifications to the previous edition indicated in track changes.

No, you can download the VCL files, but you have to acknowledge WIPO's copyright if you plan to use the VCL on your site. For more details, please refer to the conditions of use in the Download and IT Support area.

New editions of the Vienna Classification enter into force on January 1 every five years but the Committee can determine shorter revision periods. Six months in advance, the early publication is made available for downloading or consultation.