What is a Trademark Specimen Acceptable to the USPTO

traverselegal - March 19, 2012 - Filling out Your Trademark Application, Trademark Law

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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