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Learn About A Specimen For A Trademark

Posted by on Mar 25, 2016 in Law | 0 comments

Trademarks are great. Not only do they allow consumers to identify and differentiate products, but they also act as status symbols and engender feelings of belonging and loyalty. They build brand equity for a firm while simultaneously distinguishing their product from other, more ersatz, products.

What is a Specimen for a Trademark?

In addition to the trademark itself (which is just a few words and/or a picture), the trademark specimen is also an important concept to understand. A trademark specimen is how the trademark interacts with the marketplace; how consumers physically encounter the trademark. A product’s packaging is an example of a specimen. It clearly depicts the trademark but it is not the trademark itself. Invoices, brochures, business cards and advertising stationery of similar ilk are generally not regarded as Specimen. Whether you are applying under the “Use-in-commerce” basis or the “intent-to-use” basis, you will have to provide examples of specimen to obtain the trademark.

How is a Specimen Filed? 

The preferred method to submit your specimen for approval is through the United States patent attorneys and Trademark Office website. When filing electronically, a .jpg or.pdf image of the specimen must be included. The image must show the specimen and contextually demonstrate how it is used within the marketplace. If you can’t submit the application digitally, you can turn in a paper copy (just make sure your document is no larger than 8 ½ by 11 inches). Additionally, you can also submit compact discs and DVDs with images or videos of your specimen in use.

If an individual owns the trademark and is applying in that capacity, he/she is authorized to sign the application form. If a corporate entity is applying, only people “with firsthand knowledge of the application contents and authority to act for the owner” are permitted. A person can also sign the application document if he/she has “legal authority to bind the owner”.

When are Specimens Filed?

If the trademark is currently used within the marketplace (i.e. under the Use-In-Commerce basis), the application must include a sample (usually just a picture of the specimen in use) for every category (in-store signage, tags, webpages, etc.). To become filed under the use-in-commerce basis, your trademark must currently be involved with interstate or international commerce. If a trademark is more than just sketch but not quite market ready, you can file under the Intent-to-use basis. However, to make sure that your intent is “bona fide”, you must illustrate evidence that you plan to bring your trademark to market. Such evidence includes business plans, sample models, and other signs of forward progression. Because it is easier to file under the intent-to-use basis, an additional form and fee are required.


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