What requirements does a trademark specimen have to meet?

Photo of Jan Buza

Written by Jan Buza

Co-founder of Trama

When submitting a specimen to prove that your trademark is used in commerce with the applied-for goods or services, it has to meet the following requirements:

  • The specimen has to be legible.
  • The specimen has to be a real photograph/screenshot; it can't be digitally created or altered.
  • The mark shown on the specimen has to match the mark in the original trademark application exactly.
  • From the way the mark is used, it must be clear the consumers can recognize it as a brand/trademark and not just a decorative element of the goods. Although this is more of a problem with the mark itself, it often gets discovered when the specimen is submitted because the examiner wouldn't otherwise have the context of how the mark labels the goods.
  • For goods, the specimen has to show your trademark as actually used in commerce with the goods. For services, the specimen has to show the mark used in the sale or advertising of the services. This means that advertising materials are not acceptable as specimens for goods.
  • The specimen has to show a clear connection between the mark and the applied-for goods/services. This means that from the specimen, it has to be clear what goods/services the mark is associated with, and these have to match the goods/services listed in the trademark application. Common mistakes here include submitting website screenshots where the mark labels the website itself and not the products, submitting business cards or other materials with an insufficient service description, submitting a specimen that shows the mark displayed on a product from a different trademark class, or submitting merch bearing the trademark instead of the actual product/service bearing the trademark.
  • For website screenshots of goods specifically, the specimen has to prove that the website functions as a point of sale. This means the specimen has to show that the goods can be purchased by US customers (e.g., by showing the price in USD) and include means of ordering (e.g., a button "Add to cart").

If you want to see concrete examples of acceptable and unacceptable specimens for your industry, visit our Specimen guide.

Advice icon

Haven't found what you are looking for?

Our team of experienced trademark attorneys is here to help you! Simply send us an email outlining your request and we'll be happy to assist you.