What is a specimen showing use of a trademark?

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) requires that a specimen showing current use of a trademark be filed to maintain a trademark registration. This article briefly describes requirements for such specimens. This information is limited to typical circumstances, so your attorney should be consulted before proceeding.

A trademark specimen shows current use of a trademark in association with goods, services or advertising of services. The specimen must be a photo or scan of a physical object or electronic image that is actually used commercially; that is, the photo or scan must show something that is seen by ordinary customers.

For goods, the phrase above “in association with” means generally that a customer can see both the goods and the prominently displayed trademark in association with each other. For services “in association with” means generally that a customer can see EITHER (1) advertising that describes the services with the trademark prominently displayed as part of the advertising OR (2) the services being performed with the trademark prominently displayed during performance of the services.

The specimen should be currently in use and not a specimen from the first use unless the specimen from the first use is currently in use.

Typical examples of a specimen for use of a trademark in connection with the sale of goods are the trademark printed on the goods or on a label or tag attached to the goods or on a container for the goods. If the goods are able to be ordered on the internet, a web page may make a suitable specimen if the trademark is displayed in association with a picture of the goods and an order or “add to cart” button. Advertising and most catalogs and specification sheets will usually not be accepted by the USPTO for use of the trademark for goods. Typical examples of specimens for services are printed or web site advertising or signs outside or inside places of business. A home page that briefly describes the services in association with the trademark often makes a good specimen for services. This description of typical specimens is directed to the most commonly acceptable specimens. There are additional options for both goods and services.

Specimens are filed in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in the form of a photograph or a scanned copy of the specimen in a JPG or PDF format. Specimens for the sale of goods should clearly show both the trademark and the goods or their package. Multiple photos or scanned copies can be submitted to show the trademark clearly along with the goods or the packaging.

If your attorney can obtain an acceptable specimen from your web site, you do not need to provide one. If your attorney cannot, you can send a specimen as an email attachment (preferably not embedded with the email text).