One requirement for federal registration of a trademark in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is that the trademark application shows proof that the applicant is using the trademark (or service mark) in commerce in connection with the applicant’s goods or services. For US applications, this proof is in the form of a specimen submitted to show use.[1] Specimens for trademark applications may differ from specimens for service mark applications, but all specimens must show the trademark or service mark as it is applied for associated with the goods/services for which registration is sought.

Specimen for a Service Mark Application

A specimen to show use for a service mark shows the service mark used in marketing or advertising of the applicant’s services.  An acceptable specimen for a service mark application may include online marketing, such as a screenshot of the applicant’s website, a screenshot of posts on the applicant’s social media account, or screenshots of online advertising.  Other examples of acceptable specimens for services are a photograph of a business card or an invoice.  The important thing to remember is that the service mark has to associated with the applicant’s services and must be used in context as a service mark.

One common occurrence that can result in a service mark specimen being refused is that the service mark is used in a sentence. Consider these two examples:

“Camuti Law Group is an outstanding trademark firm that provides outstanding service and advice. Yes, you may find online vendors that cost less. They may have a lower price, but at what cost? The trademark attorneys at Camuti Law Group can help you navigate the particularities of the trademark system with ease.”

Compared to the sample online advertisement:

Lower price, But at what cost

The former is likely to be refused because the slogan, “They may have a lower price. But at what cost?” is included in a sentence and does not stand out as a source idetifier for Camuti Law Group APC. Use of the service mark in a sentence means that a consumer is less likely to recognize the service mark as a slogan and is less likely to associate the service mark with the service provider.

Specimen for a Trademark Application

An acceptable specimen showing use of a trademark in commerce shows the mark associated with the goods that are offered for sale.

One common mistake made in filing a specimen for goods is use of a specimen showing the mark in a decorative or ornamental way.  To avoid this mistake, a trademark applicant should select a specimen that shows the trademark in the branding of the e-commerce website the products and purchasing information, such as a shopping cart.

Examples of acceptable specimens described by the Unite States Patent and Trademark Office in the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP) include:

Sample Trademark Specimen

Sample Trademark Specimen

Sample Trademark Specimen

Of course, these are merely examples of acceptable trademark specimens. Other specimens may be acceptable. The USPTO allows photographs, screen shots, and even sound recordings to be used as trademark specimens as appropriate for different trademark applications.

If you have questions about an acceptable specimen for a trademark application or service mark application, call to speak with one of our trademark attorneys.  We look forward to hearing from you soon!

[1] Applications claiming priority to a foreign application or registration, and applications under the Madrid protocol, may not require a specimen.

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