Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Vienna Code Definition:

An international classification standard for, where present, the figurative element(s) of a trade-mark.

Related Terms: Trademark

A distinguishing element of certain trade-marks that describe figurative elements of the trade-mark design (not all trade-marks , such as logos, have figurative elements. Many are just words or a combination of words).

The 29 classes or Vienna codes are an attempt at classifying the gamut of possible figurative elements that form part of an existing or proposed trade-mark, into an international standard of classification. The Vienna codes purports to be a hierarchical system that starts from the more general to the more particular.

In the Vienna codes, figurative elements are divided into 29 categories, as follows, with numerous sub-categories associated with each, the presentation of each exceeding the scope of this legal definition but which are set out within the Vienna Agreement Establishing an International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks, now (as of 2014), into a 7th Edition .

The 29 Vienna Codes as of 2014

1. Celestial bodies, natural phenomena, geographical maps;
2. Human beings;
3. Animals;
4. Supernatural, fabulous, fantastic or unidentifiable beings ... not including human beings and fantastic animals.
5. Plants.
6. Landscapes.
7. Constructions, structures for advertisements, gates or barriers.
8. Foodstuffs;
9. Textiles, clothing, sewing accessories, headwear, footwear;
10. Tobacco, smokers' requisites, matches, travel goods, fans, toilet articles;
Vienna Code t-shirt11. Household utensils (not including household tensils classified at Codes 12, 13 or 19);
12. Furniture, sanitary installations.
13. Lighting, wireless valves, heating, cooking or refrigerating equipment, washing machines, drying equipment;
14. Ironmongery, tools, ladders.
15. Machinery, motors, engines;
16. Telecommunications, sound recording or reproduction, computers, photography, cinematography, optics;
17. Horological instruments, jewelry, weights and measures;
18. Transport, equipment for animals;
19. Containers and packing, representations of miscellaneous products;
20. Writing, drawing or painting materials, office requisites, stationery and booksellers' goods;
21. Games, toys, sporting articles, roundabouts;
22. Musical instruments and their accessories, music accessories, bells, pictures, sculptures;
23. Arms, ammunition, armour (not including military tanks, aircraft and warships, which fall under Code 18);
24. Heraldry, coins, emblems, symbols;
25. Ornamental motifs, surfaces or backgrounds with ornaments;
26. Geometrical figures and solids, including geometrical figures and solids composed of human beings, animals, plants or objects but not including inscriptions forming geometrical figures, which are classified under Code 27;
27. Forms of writing, numerals;
28. Inscriptions in various characters (official note: no account should be taken, in a given country, of the divisions relating to inscriptions in characters normally used in that country. In such cases, the inscriptions constitute word marks); and
29. Colours.

A Brief History of the Vienna Codes

As the advantages of international trade became more obvious to nation-states around the world as in their individual national interests, collaboration on some aspects of domestic law became essential. One small segment of that was the discordant standards of trade-arks, especially as states sought not only to protect the trade-marks of others on their territory, but that their trade-marks, too, would receive reciprocal protection in other states.

In 1967, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), then known as the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property (BIRPI), began a five-year task to classify figurative elements of trade-marks for the purposes of international standardization

The final version of a classification was concluded by a proposed Vienna Agreement Establishing an International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks published in June of 1973 at a international conference of diplomats; hence the reference to "Vienna".

It was further agreed, to allow a comment and accommodation period, that the Agreement, would not come into force until 1985.

According to the World Intellectual Property Office:

"The purpose of the Classification is essentially the practical one of facilitating trademark anticipation searches and obviating substantial reclassification work when documents are exchanged at the international level. What is more, the countries party to the Vienna Agreement no longer need to draw up their own national classification or keep an existing one up to date."

Effective May 2014, the following states are formal signatories to the Vienna Agreement Establishing an International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks. Note the absence of most of the larger industrialized nations although in practice, many promote the assignation of a Vienna codes in their application processes where the proposed trademark presents a figurative element.":

  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • France
  • Guinea
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Montenegro
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Republic of Korea
  • Republic of Moldova
  • Romania
  • Saint Lucia
  • Serbia
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • Uruguay


  • Duhaime.org, Intellectual Property and Internet Law
  • Duhaime.org, International Law
  • Vienna Agreement Establishing an International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks done at Vienna on June 12, 1973. Re-issued as amended on October 1, 1985.
  • World Intellectual Property Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. Website URL, as of May 2014, at www.wipo.int.

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