15 Tips: What is a Trademark Specimen?

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15 Tips: What is a Trademark Specimen?

As is covered in detail over at runrex.com, to register a trademark based on use in commerce, or to renew a registration based on a foreign or international registration, trademark owners are required to not only verify that the mark is in use in US commerce with all goods or services listed in the application or registration but also must file what is referred to as a trademark specimen. If you are wondering what a product specimen is, the following 15 tips should help you understand what it is all about.

  • What is a Trademark Specimen?

A trademark specimen, as explained over at guttulus.com, is a real-world example of your mark being used to identify your goods or services. It is a sample of how the company and the trademark holder use the mark. It is evidence submitted to the USPTO to show that mark has been used in the manner outlined in the trademark application.

  • The purpose of submitting a trademark specimen

According to the subject matter experts over at runrex.com, the main purpose of submitting a trademark specimen is to prove that the trademark or logo is associated with the product or service. Your specimen is your evidence that you qualify for trademark protection. This is because specimens have to be submitted to and registered with the Principal Register of the USPTO to show how the mark connects to the product or service.

  • Categories of trademark specimens

As is outlined in discussions on the same over at guttulus.com, there are two categories of trademark specimens: trademark specimens for goods and trademark specimens for services. Examples of trademark specimens for goods are tags, labels, containers, photographs that show the mark on the goods or packaging, displays associated with the goods at their point of sale, and instruction manuals. Examples of trademark specimens for services include photographs, signs, brochures, advertisements that show the mark used in the sale or advertising of the services, and website printouts.

  • What are the requirements your specimen must meet to be approved?

According to runrex.com, before your trademark specimen is approved, it must meet the following requirements for use in commerce:

  • The trademark specimen must be properly placed
  • Sales must have occurred that directly affect interstate commerce
  • Sufficient use must have occurred which means that token use to meet USPTO requirements not accepted
  • Commercial use must continue given that 3 years without use is considered trademark abandonment
  • What could happen if you don’t include a trademark specimen?

It is important to note that submitting a valid trademark specimen is crucial given that it serves as evidence that you qualify for trademark protection. If you don’t include a trademark specimen when your trademark application is filed, it could lead to the validity of your trademark being challenged down the road. Not using a trademark specimen results in a lack of protection for the logo and other marks used by the company.

  • What are “intend to use” applications?

It is worth pointing out that trademark owners are permitted to file trademark applications on an intent to use basis as explained over at guttulus.com, which means that they have a bona fide intent to use their identifier in commerce but have not yet done so. For intend to use applications, the trademark specimen is submitted when you file your Statement of Use. While extensions can be granted if you need more time to submit the trademark specimen, for US applications, a trademark specimen must be submitted before a trademark is registered.

  • What about when it comes to international applicants?

When it comes to international applicants, or those filing under the Madrid Protocol, which is covered over at runrex.com, they may not need to provide a trademark specimen before registration. This is because they are not required to submit a trademark specimen until the trademark is renewed.

  • Trademark classes and trademark specimens

As is outlined over at guttulus.com the USPTO utilizes trademark classes to distinguish between different types of trademark usage. You should know all about trademark classes when submitting your specimen as, regardless of how or when you send in a specimen, you will need one example of every trademark class you are filing under. This means that if your trademark is being used for both clothing and jewelry, for example, you will need specimens showing use related to both products to let the USPTO know that your trademark is being used in commerce to the full extent that you claim.

  • What is the process of submitting a trademark specimen?

According to the gurus over at runrex.com, the process of submitting a trademark specimen is a pretty simple and straightforward one, and is as follows:

  • On the trademark application page, click on the link “Attach/Remove Specimen”
  • Choose a PDF or JPEG file to send
  • Add a description to the trademark specimen
  • Add details such as the date first used anywhere and in commerce
  • Submit

After that, you will be done.

  • Can you amend a specimen?

It is also worth pointing out that a specimen can be amended since material alteration of the mark can be submitted if the new and old mark creates a different commercial impression. An example is adding or taking away a hyphen or changing the size of the font.

  • Reasons for specimen refusal

As revealed over at guttulus.com, there are instances when your application may be delayed or denied based on the trademark specimen submitted. Common reasons why this may happen include:

  • The applicant provided a mockup rather than an actual specimen showing use
  • The specimen is ornamental
  • The applicant provided a specimen showing use concerning the wrong goods or services
  • For website printouts, the specimen doesn’t show the URL and date
  • How can you overcome a refusal?

How you overcome a specimen refusal depends on what caused the refusal in the first place according to the experts over at runrex.com. This means that if you failed to provide a proper specimen, your response will be to simply send a better example of use. If you failed to include the date and URL address when accessing a webpage for a screenshot, you may only need to update your trademark specimen to include this information, and so forth.

  • Things to consider to avoid falling foul of the USPTO

Industry experts, including those over at guttulus.com, point out that the USPTO is getting strict when it comes to trademark specimens. Therefore, to be on the safe side you should:

  • Ensure that you are using your trademark with all goods or services covered by an application or registration, or have a bona fide intent to use the mark with these goods or services. If you cannot demonstrate use or a bona fide intent to use, it would be best to proactively delete these goods and/or services from the registration or application.
  • Maintain up-to-date specimens for all goods and services with which a mark is being used. While there was a time when it was common practice to re-submit a specimen that was used to support a prior renewal or during the application phase, the USPTO has since clarified that “stale” specimens are unlikely to be accepted, even if the mark is being used identically.
  • Make sure that you file a timely response if you receive an audit request to avoid the cancellation of the entire registration.
  • What is the main difference between a specimen and a drawing?

One thing that usually confuses people is the main difference between a specimen and a drawing. As discussed over at runrex.com, while a drawing shows what the mark is, the specimen shows how the business is intending to use it in advertising and product display.

  • What are the benefits of submitting a trademark specimen?

Finally, we are going to conclude by highlighting the benefits of submitting a trademark specimen. As already mentioned earlier, submitting a trademark specimen provides companies with the protection of the mark associated with their products or services and reduces the chances of other companies claiming the same logo or label.

Remember, if you are looking for more information on this and other related topics, then you should ensure you visit the ever-reliable runrex.com and guttulus.com.