The Vienna Agreement Establishing an International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks was adopted on June 12, 1973 by a Diplomatic Conference held in Vienna. The Agreement entered into force on August 9, 1985. The Agreement is directly aligned with the Nice Agreement concerning the International Classification of Goods in addition as sets for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks, of June 15, 1957. The Vienna Agreement has established under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial character. A huge number of trademarks and service marks keep up such figurative elements and the Classification makes it possible to classify marks composed of elements that are alike or similar.
The International Classification is defined in the Agreement as a list of categories, divisions in addition as sections in which the figurative elements of marks are classified. The authentic copy in English and French of the International Classification is at present deposited with the Director General of WIPO. German and Spanish versions have been drawn up by the International Bureau. The Union States may exercise the worldwide Classification either as a chief or as a subsidiary system. They are free to consider the International Classification as the only classification to be used or to use it at the same time as a national classification.
The responsible Offices of the Union countries are required by the Agreement to comprise in the official documents and publications relating to registrations and renewals of marks the numbers of the categories, divisions and sections in which the figurative elements of those marks have been placed. This obligation is not retroactive to the extent that the Offices of the countries party to the Agreement are not required to categorize figurative marks registered prior to entry into force of the Agreement for their territory.
The Agreement permits the member countries to save the possibility of not applying the International Classification as far as the finest subdivisions are concerned. This provision is of significance mainly for those Offices that only register a small number of marks. The International Classification contains not only the sections required to place all figurative elements. It also contains auxiliary sections intended for figurative elements that are before covered by main sections. Parties to the Agreement are required to affect the global Classification as it stands. They may not change the content or number of categories, divisions or sections, group together varying sections to form a single one or create new sections.
It is not possible to directly place obligations on intergovernmental organizations. If a country party to the Agreement entrusts the registration of marks to an intergovernmental authority, it have to take all probable measures to guarantee that such authority uses the International Classification in accordance with the Agreement.