What is a Trademark Specimen Acceptable to the USPTO

March 19th, 2012

Like most applicants, you’re probably wondering, “What in the world is a specimen?” The easiest way to think about it is this: a specimen shows how you actually use the mark in commerce in connection with your goods and services.

For example, if you have applied for goods, you’ll want to submit a picture of the mark on a label or hang-tag that is attached to the goods. Packaging that shows the mark is also acceptable.

By way of illustration, let’s say your goods are “t-shirts.” You could submit a digital photograph of the mark appearing on a hang tag. You could also submit a digital photograph showing a close up of the mark appearing on the t-shirt label.

If your goods are “plates,” for example, you could show use of the trademark on the goods themselves.  Please note, however, that when the mark is used on the goods themselves, the mark should appear where and how consumers expect to see a trademark, and not merely as a decorative or ornamental design.

Also remember that advertising brochures, business cards, invoices, and other internal and marketing materials are not acceptable specimens for goods.  You must show use of the mark on the goods themselves or on the packaging for the goods.

For services, on the other hand, advertising and marketing materials are acceptable, so long as the mark is shown being used in the advertising or providing of the services.  For example, if your services are “Imprinting messages on t-shirts,” you could submit a screenshot of your website.  You could also submit photographs or scanned copies of your marketing materials.  Many different types of materials are acceptable as specimens for services, so long as the mark is shown being used in the advertising or providing of the services.

Don’t confuse the two, as the specimens for goods and the specimens for services are not the same.  Goods specimens show the mark on the goods or packaging; services specimens show the mark in the advertising or providing of the services.

And as before, remember that a specimen is not the same thing as a drawing.  A drawing shows what the mark is; a specimen shows how the mark is used.

Feel free to replay this video and click on any of the links within the form for more information. And keep an eye out for more of these videos throughout the website.  I’m Mark Trademan, Trademark Information Network.

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2 Responses to “What is a Trademark Specimen Acceptable to the USPTO”

  1. Clients often ask how to trademark a name. While registering a name as a trademark seems like it should be pretty straightforward, it is not. The USPTO, or trademark office, has the forms available over the Internet online. But filling out your trademark application for registration correctly is the key. An experienced trademark attorney to make sure you file for registration correctly. Trademark lawyers have registered hundreds or thousands of trademarks. They will not only be able to help you understand what an appropriate specimen is to make sure your description of services, 1st use in commerce and other key data entry fields are filled out correctly. If you receive an office action from the trademark office telling you there is a problem, you could always have a trademark lawyer step in at that point in order to fix it.

    In order to trademark the name, you need to make sure you file correctly the 1st time. Otherwise, you may simply end up with an invalid trademark registration worth little more than the certificate. Allowing a 3rd party to come in and challenge your trademark registration takes away all of your leverage if you should ever have to send a trademark infringement threat letter. If you file a trademark infringement lawsuit, the 1st thing a good trademark lawyer will do will analyze your trademark registration looking for errors.

  2. Enrico S. says:

    What is a specimen? A trademark specimen under trademark law is the evidence of actual use of the trademark in commerce. One common office action from the USPTO is a notation of an inadequate specimen. many people who try to file a name as a trademark without the help of a trademark attorney failed to submit a specimen which meets the USPTO guidelines.

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