Every federal application for registration of a trademark or service mark includes a requirement for submission of at least one "specimen" showing appropriate use of the mark in commerce.  Like the application itself, each submitted specimen will be reviewed and may be rejected if it does not meet certain specific, technical requirements.  The following guidelines are meant to outline those requirements, and to enable you to select suitable specimens for your trademark or service mark application.

            What should be submitted as a specimen for a trademark application?  Specimen requirements for trademarks and service marks differ.  Because trademarks represent goods sold in commerce, the specimens submitted to support a trademark application must show use of the mark in connection with sale of the goods it represents.  Appropriate specimens to support trademark applications include samples of the goods on which the trademark appears, or containers, tags, or labels that display the mark and are attached to or associated with the goods at the point of sale.  In some cases, other specimens might be suitable (point of sale display materials, for example), but specimens showing the mark actually used on or on something attached to the goods when they are sold are best.

            What should be submitted as a specimens for a service mark application?  Because services are not tangible items to which labels or tags can be affixed, specimen requirements for service mark applications are somewhat more liberal than those for trademark applications.  Acceptable specimens to support a service mark application include newspaper or magazine advertisements, brochures, handbills, direct mail leaflets, and similar materials using the mark for promotion of the services it represents.  Letterhead and business cards are generally not acceptable specimens, but materials other than those listed in the preceding sentence might be, if none of the preferred specimens are available.

            How many specimens are needed?  The Trademark Office only requires a single, appropriate specimen for each application.  In most cases, photographs or photocopies of the specimen are generally accepted.  However, it can be advantageous to provide two or three separate things to the Trademark Office that would serve as appropriate specimens.

            When must specimens be submitted?  For applications based on actual use of trademarks or service marks, the supporting specimen(s) must be submitted along with the initial application.  For federal trademark applications based on intent to use, the specimen(s) must be submitted when the mark has been put into actual use in commerce, and an affidavit to that effect is filed.  This will generally be six to eight months after the initial filing of the application. 

            If you have any questions or concerns about specimens to support your application, please let me know.

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