What is a “Specimen” of Usage for Trademarks?

A specimen is merely a sample of how you actually use the trademark in commerce on your goods or with your services.  The description of goods and services for your trademark application or trademark registration determine what type of specimen you must submit.  U.S. trademark applications and U.S. trademark registrations both require a specimen showing actual usage of the trademark.

For goods, the specimen must show the mark on the goods themselves or in direct connection with the goods.  The preferred specimen is a picture of the goods with the trademark clearly shown on the goods (e.g. a label attached to the goods or the trademark painted on the goods).

For services, the specimen must show the mark used in providing or advertising the services.  The specimen must show or contain some reference to the services themselves in addition to the trademark (i.e. the specimen for services cannot only be just a display of the mark itself).

What Are NOT Acceptable Specimens

The following examples do not qualify as acceptable specimens for a trademark application or trademark registration renewal:

  • A visual “mock-up” of the goods showing the trademark.
  • Printer’s proofs for advertisements or marketing materials.
  • A drawing only showing the trademark.
  • A display of the mark only.
  • Advertisements, flyers, leaflets, direct mail cards, circulars, brochures or publicity releases.
  • Order form or invoice.
  • A specimen that only shows the mark as purely ornamental or decorative (e.g. a slogan or design across the front of a T-shirt).

What Are Acceptable Specimens for Goods?

The following examples qualify as acceptable specimens for goods (in order of preference):

  • Photograph of the actual product, packaging or container on which the trademark is imprinted or engraved (photograph must clearly show the trademark).
  • A label or tag which the mark is on that can be attached to either the product itself or the packaging/container in which the product is sold/shipped.
  • A web page that displays the product and provides a means to order the product wherein the mark appears on the web page in a manner in which the mark is associated with the goods.
  • Photograph of a static display in which an actual product is exhibited along with a sign or poster on which the mark is displayed to customers (e.g. trade show or show room).
  • Instruction sheet/manual on which the mark is imprinted and which accompanies the product when it is sold.
  • For computer software, a CD jacket, a CD label, a screenshot of the software or a web page with download/order instructions showing the trademark.

What Are Acceptable Specimens for Services?

The following examples qualify as acceptable specimens for services (in order of preference):

  • Picture of business sign for store showing trademark.
  • An advertisement for the services using the trademark.
  • A website or web page using the trademark.
  • Letterhead or business cards showing the trademark.