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Q. How does the JPO judge similarity of goods and services in trademark examination?

A. The similarity is judged based on the similarity group code (SGC) assigned to the goods and services by the JPO. Goods and services are judged as similar if SGC is the same, and as dissimilar if SGC differs.

An SGC is a code assigned to a product group having commonality in terms of production, sales, raw materials, etc. Goods with identical code are examined presuming that they have similarities. Services are assigned a code based on whether or not they have commonality in terms of their means, purposes, and places of provision etc.

For example, "computers," "computer programs," and "LED" in Class 9 are all assigned SGC of 11C01, and are presumed to be similar goods. Contrastively, "digital camera" is dissimilar to "computers" since it is coded 10B01, even though they are somewhat similar.

Even goods with different classes, if they have identical SGC, they are presumed to be similar. “Ink cartridges, filled, for printers and photocopiers" in Class 2 is assigned 11C01, thus similar to "Computers" in Class 9.

A single item may have multiple codes. For example, the codes for "electronic publications" are 26A01 and 26D01. This means that the electronic publications are similar to both 26A01 (e.g., printed matter in Class 16) and 26D01 (e.g., photograph stands in Class 16).

Exceptionally, the following goods and services are specified to be similar in the JPO's examination guidelines, even their SGC differ.


1. Class 9 "computer programs" (11C01) and Class 42 "providing computer programs on data networks" (42X11)

2. Class 9 "electronic publications" (26A01 26D01) and Class 41 "providing electronic publications" (41C02)

These goods and services are presumed to be similar when "Third-Party Submission” (documents of potential relevance of trademarks) is filed, or when an "Opposition" or "Invalidation Trial" is filed, and are not presumed to be similar in regular examination.

Although there are some exceptions, the JPO examines goods and services with the same SGC to be similar.

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