Submitting a Proper Trademark Specimen

Trademarks are identifiers of your company’s services or goods; this can include a logo, phrase, word, or combination of sensory elements. We’ve previously covered the basics on trademarks and why your company needs these legal protections. To get federal protection for your trademarks, you need to submit a fairly comprehensive application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In this application, you must include what’s called a trademark specimen. 

What Is a Trademark Specimen?

A trademark specimen is a representation of your trademark as used in commerce. The specimen you submit to the USPTO should clearly show how the trademark is used in connection with your company’s products or services. This could include the logo used on your products’ packaging or advertising materials for your company’s services. 

Do You Have to Send a Physical Representation of the Trademark?

No. The USPTO accepts electronic representations of trademarks and rarely demands physical samples. Photographs usually work, as do screenshots. However, if your trademark specimen depicts something on a website, the screenshot must show the site’s URL and date accessed.

Why Are Trademark Specimens Rejected?

There are a few common reasons why specimens are considered unacceptable by the USPTO. The basic requirements of trademark specimens are to: 

  • Show the trademark you wish to register;
  • Illustrate the connection between your trademark and your company’s goods or services; and
  • Show the trademark actually being used in commerce. 

A specimen rejection often has to do with the applicant’s failure to satisfy one or more of those three conditions. For example, a specimen might be rejected because the entire trademark is not visible. In other cases, the specimen might be a “mock-up,” drawing, or digitally altered image of the trademark instead of how it actually appears in commerce. 

One common mistake made by trademark applicants is using marketing or advertising material for products. This is, however, acceptable for service trademarks (simply called “service marks”). 

What If Your Trademark Specimen Gets Rejected?

The USPTO will notify you that your specimen has been rejected. You will usually be able to amend your application, but you only have a certain amount of time to do so. Depending on the circumstances, you may provide more information on the specimen or submit a new one altogether.

The most efficient way to submit a federal trademark application and ensure it gets approved by the USPTO is to enlist the help of an experienced attorney. Alvarez Law Group is focused on helping entrepreneurs get trademark approval so their companies can grow sustainably and securely. Talk to our team today and set up a consultation.

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