What Examples (a.k.a. “Specimens”) Do I Need to Show Trademark Use?
Trademark registration requires you to show the actual use of your trademark within the context of your offerings to the public. These examples are called specimens.
Specimens show how you actually use your mark with your goods or services. Specimens are not the mark alone—they show your mark in context with your products or services.
A specimen for goods (products) usually shows the mark on the actual goods, on labels/tags affixed to the goods, on packaging, or in a product display for the goods (like a window display). Advertising materials are generally not acceptable as a specimen for goods, nor are materials used to carry out your daily business (e.g., invoices, packing slips, etc.). For goods, the following are usually acceptable:
- A photograph of the product showing the mark directly on the product (e.g., the bottom of a coffee mug)
- Product labels and tags showing the mark (e.g., the label on a t-shirt)
- Product packaging showing the mark (e.g., detergent soap packaging)
- Signage used in a product display at a store (e.g., a photograph of the display)
- A webpage showing or describing the product near the mark and with purchasing information (e.g., a webpage showing a photograph of a computer laptop, the mark for the laptop appearing above the photograph, the price appearing below the photograph, and a shopping cart button/link appearing on the page)
- For downloadable software, copies of the instruction manual and screen printouts from (1) web pages showing the mark in connection with ordering or purchasing information or information sufficient to download the software, (2) the actual program that shows the mark in the title bar, or (3) launch screens that show the mark in an introductory message box that appears after opening the program
A specimen for services generally shows the mark used in the sale, rendering, or advertising of the services. A customer should be able to directly associate your mark with your services on the specimen. For services, the following are usually acceptable:
- Print or Internet advertising
- Brochures and leaflets
- Business cards and letterhead with a reference to the services
- Marketing materials
- A photograph of business signage and billboards
For example, a specimen for a restaurant could be a copy of a menu showing the name/mark next to food items people can order. As another example, a specimen for a musical band could be a photograph of the band performing with the band’s name displayed during the performance (e.g., on the band’s drum).
To learn more, check out section 904 of the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure. Section 904 includes some helpful examples of accepted and rejected specimens.