Specimen guide for Clothing apparel

Examples of trademark specimens for Clothing apparel.

What is a trademark specimen?

When you apply for/renew a US trademark, you must prove to the USPTO that your trademark is "used in commerce", i.e., that your goods/services are available for purchase or ordering to US customers. In practice, you will prove the use in commerce by submitting a so-called specimen, which is usually a photograph or a screenshot of your trademark used together with the goods or services you applied for (e.g., depicted on the product packaging, on your storefront, etc.).

What is considered a sufficient specimen will depend on multiple factors, including whether you offer goods (Classes 1-34) or services (Classes 35-45).

In this guide, we will look specifically at trademark specimens for clothing apparel - the best format, requirements, and examples from the USPTO.

What is a proper specimen for clothing apparel?

When trademarking a clothing brand, your products will likely fall under Class 25 and/or Class 18. You can find more information on selecting the appropriate class for your products in our Class assist.

However, both of these are goods classes, and therefore, the most suitable specimens for clothing apparel include:

  • Photos of the goods themselves
  • Photos of collar tags or care instruction tags
  • Photos of packaging or labels attached to the product (e.g., a pricing tag)

What requirements does my specimen for clothing apparel have to meet?

Besides the format mentioned above, your specimen must meet a few general requirements to be accepted. For goods such as clothing apparel, these requirements include the following:


The mark must be clearly visible, meaning it must be legible, not cropped off, etc.

Correct mark version

The mark shown on the specimen has to match the mark in the original trademark application exactly. For example, if you applied for a mark consisting of a graphical element and the brand name, the specimen can't display just the graphical element.


The specimen must be a real photograph, not a digitally altered or created image.

Showing connection

The specimen has to show a clear connection between the mark and the applied-for goods. Compared to the previous rules, this one is more broad and can translate to different things in practice because it's related to your use of the trademark.

For example, if you submit a photo of the product bearing the mark, that connection will be inherently there. However, if you submit a picture of a container bearing the mark, it should suggest what product it contains. Otherwise, if the connection cannot be inferred from the packaging alone, the specimen can't prove that the mark is used in connection with the applied-for goods and the USPTO will likely refuse it.

Therefore, for packaging, make sure it clearly indicates what you are selling and that this information matches the items listed in your trademark application. This can be achieved in a number of ways - by including a product depiction or description (you don't have to use the exact same wording from your trademark application), making the product visible through the packaging, or at least taking a picture with the packaging open and showing the product inside.

Labels should ideally also include references to the applied-for goods, although labels affixed to the product can sometimes meet the requirement through that physical connection. If you are submitting a label, make sure the photo is not too close-up, and the product to which the label is attached is clearly identifiable.

Generally, to meet this criterion, a good rule of thumb is to ask: "Is it clear from the specimen that the trademark belongs to the items I said I was selling in my trademark application?"

Can I submit a website screenshot as a specimen for clothing apparel?

There's nothing wrong with submitting this type of specimen for clothing apparel; it's just that it must meet more requirements than the previous types:

  • The screenshot has to show that the goods can be purchased by US customers (in practice, it's enough to show the price in USD).
  • The screenshot has to show the means of ordering (e.g., button "Add to cart").
  • You must provide the URL and the date of taking, either on the specimen itself or by filling it out in the form.
  • The specimen has to be an actual screenshot of a page the examiner can access, not a mockup or an altered screenshot.
  • The specimen must include a picture or sufficient textual description of the product.
  • As we already mentioned above, the specimen must show the mark associated with the goods. Screenshots sometimes get refused if the examiner believes the trademark is associated with the website itself rather than the goods listed in your trademark application.

Meeting all these expectations can be challenging, and sometimes, brand owners have to change their websites before they can take a screenshot and submit it as a specimen.

Common mistakes to avoid when submitting specimens for clothing apparel

From your specimen, it must be clear that customers can recognize the mark as a brand/trademark, not merely as part of the design. This is where many specimens for clothing run into a problem.

For example, if you submit a photo of a shirt with a large-scale front print, it might be seen as a decorative element rather than something that can function as a trademark - a mark capable of distinguishing the source of the goods. In these cases, the USPTO might issue an ornamental refusal. On the other hand, if your trademark is depicted in a small print in a place where customers typically expect a logo, such as the left breast pocket, the examiner will be more likely to approve the specimen.

Ornamental refusals are influenced by multiple factors, including the mark itself (word mark vs. figurative mark), size and placement. Below, you can find examples demonstrating this concept.

Conclusion - What do you recommend I submit?

From our experience, tags and labels are the best option for novice fillers. Product photos tend to receive ornamental refusals quite often, website screenshots frequently miss all the necessary elements to be accepted, and while packaging tends to work well in other industries, clothing is often packaged in a way that doesn't clearly reference the product.

Examples of suitable and unsuitable specimen for Clothing apparel


The mark is depicted directly on the goods in a place where consumers would expect to find a brand. View source


The mark is depicted on a clothing label. View source


A webpage display specimen must include a picture or sufficient textual description of the goods and show the mark associated with the goods, which are both met for the mark BONYA. The screenshot includes the price in USD and the means of ordering. View source or view image at full size.


The mark is displayed on the front of the T-shirt, where ornamental elements often appear. The mark is displayed in a relatively large size, further suggesting it should be interpreted as a decorative design element of the goods. Lastly, the mark appears to be a slogan - an element used merely in a decorative manner but not as a sufficient identifier of the source of this T-shirt. View source


Another example of a specimen that has received an ornamental refusal. View source


The mark on the specimen (bottom) doesn't match the originally filed mark (top). Specifically, the specimen displays the mark with a vertical line dividing the shield in half. View source


This specimen was refused due to appearing digitally created or altered. The mark wasn't filed by Adidas, therefore, its inclusion on a product already bearing Adidas' mark led the examiner to this conclusion. View source

Submit specimen with ease

Whether you are registering a new trademark, proving its use in commerce, or prolonging its validity, we are here to make sure your submission with the USPTO goes through.

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