You might wonder what is a “specimen” of use and how is it different from a drawing in reference to a trademark?

A specimen is an example of how you actually use the mark to sell your goods or services.  A drawing shows only your mark but the specimen shows the mark as your purchasers encounter it at the store or anywhere else (e.g., on a label on your website).

You might also ask what is a proper specimen for use of a mark of goods?

At most times, a specimen for a mark used on goods shows the mark as it would appear on the good or on labeling or packaging of the goods.  For example, your specimen may be a tag displaying the mark, or a picture showing the mark on the goods or its packaging.  The specimen must be a photograph of what you actually use or a picture of the actual packaging.  Showing a picture of the actual mark alone is not sufficient.  The mark must be shown on or in direct connection with the goods.  If your specimen shows the mark being used in a decorative or purely ornamental manner, this will may not be an acceptable specimen.  For example, a slogan or design across the front of a t-shirt or other clothing or a tote bag would not be acceptable because it is likely perceived as being ornamental or decorative rather than a trademark.  But, a small word or design, such as an animal on shirt pocket, may create the commercial impression that it is a trademark and would be acceptable as a specimen.

You might wonder if your website is a proper specimen for good and what is not acceptable.

If the mark appears near a picture of the goods (or a text description of the goods) and your customers can order the goods from the website then it is acceptable.  It is not acceptable if your website just advertises the good.  Providing an actual screenshot of the website is acceptable but merely providing the website address is not acceptable. 

Business cards, letterhead, announcements, invoices, order forms, brochures and publicity releases generally are not acceptable specimens for goods.

You might also wonder what is a proper specimen for use of a mark with services and what is not acceptable?

A specimen for a mark used in connection with services must show the mark used in providing or advertising the services.  For example, your specimen may be a photograph of a brochure about the services, an advertisement for the services, a website or webpage, a business card, or stationery showing the mark but it must show or contain some reference to the services. Just a display of the mark itself would be insufficient.

Printer’s proof of advertisements or news articles about your services are not acceptable.  Your use of the mark must be shown. 

You are probably thinking this information is great but how and when do I file the specimen. 

You can file your specimen electronically or by paper but filing electronically is preferred.  If you are filing electronically, you must submit the specimen in .jpeg or .pdf format.  If you are filing by paper the specimen must be flat and no larger than 8½ by 11 inches but you could also provide compact discs, or DVDs, with files in .jpg, .pdf, .wav, .wma, .wmv, .mp3, .mpg, or .avi format with your filing.

If your application is based on “use in commerce,” submit one specimen for each class of goods/services must be submitted when you file your trademark application. If your trademark application is based on “intent to use,” one specimen for each class of goods/services must be submitted when you file the “allegation of use.”

I hope this article answers most of your questions about specimens.  

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