What Is a Proper Specimen? Showing Use of Your Mark

What Is a Proper Specimen? Showing Use of Your Mark

Before the Trademark Office will grant you a registration, you must first show use of your trademark in commerce.  There are a couple different ways that you might show use.  If you file your trademark application on an In Use basis, then you will show your use in the application.  However, if you file on an Intent to Use basis, then you will have to later show your use by filing a Statement of Use.  The way you show use of your mark is by submitting what is called a “specimen.”  You can just think of the specimen as how consumers would actually see your mark when they purchase your products or services.

The things that you might submit as a specimen typically depend on the kinds of products or services you sell.  But there are some general guidelines you can use depending on whether your mark is used for goods or for services.  Remember: the specimen should always clearly show use of the mark as it appears in your application.

If you are using your mark in the sale of goods, the most common specimen that you might submit would be a photo of the product which shows the mark on the product.  You could also submit a photo of the product packaging where the mark is visible.  For example, you might show the box that your product comes in, instead of the product itself.  You can also use a photo of product display signage at a store where the products are sold.  Finally, if the product is sold in an online store, it is an acceptable specimen to submit a screenshot of the store’s webpage where the product is pictured.  Typically, there must be a photo of the product, a price, and also a link where the item can be added to a shopping cart.

To submit a specimen for services, there are also several options.  Almost all businesses have a website, and one acceptable specimen may be a screenshot from the site that shows the mark with a description of the services provided.  You can also use PDFs or copies of advertising and marketing materials.  Brochures and pamphlets are usually a good example of this.  You might even submit a specimen of signage for the business.

If you submit a specimen that is not found to be acceptable by the Trademark Office, then you will receive an office action.  Like other office actions, you must respond in a timely fashion, otherwise your trademark application may go abandoned.  Of course, your response will also have to adequately address the issue(s) raised by the trademark examining attorney.  You will not receive a trademark registration until you show use of your mark, so a proper specimen must be submitted for all applications.

Do You Need Help Showing Use of Your Trademark With a Specimen?

If you are not sure whether you have an acceptable specimen for your application or Statement of Use, please feel free to call me at (314) 479-3668, email me at kevin@yourtrademarkattorney.com, or complete the contact form found on this page to schedule your free initial consultation today.  I look forward to speaking with you.