Specimen Selection & Review

Specimens are required to show the mark as it is seen by the purchasing public and provide evidence for the registration. One of things the USPTO is looking for is to see if the mark is merely descriptive of the goods or services (common cause for rejection). Marks must be displayed in a manner so the consumer recognizes it as a mark and links it to the goods or services,  or in other words-functioning as a mark.


Acceptable Specimens

GOODS (for a trademark): Acceptable specimens for goods (TMEP 904.03) include such items as “a label, tag, or container for the goods, or a display associated with the goods. A photocopy or other reproduction of a specimen of the mark as actually used on or in connection with the goods is acceptable.”


SERVICES (for a service mark): Acceptable specimens for services normally consist of advertisements, displays, or signage (TMEP 1301). A service mark specimen must show use of the mark “in the sale or advertising of services.”  Trademark Act Section 45, 15 U.S.C. §1127; 37 C.F.R. §2.56.  Therefore, a specimen is unacceptable if it does not show use of the service mark in relation to the identified services.  There must be a direct association between the mark sought to be registered and the services specified in the application, with sufficient reference to the services in the specimen to create this association.  In re Monograms America, Inc., 51 USPQ2d 1317 (TTAB 1999); In re Adair, 45 USPQ2d 1211 (TTAB 1997); In re Restonic Corp., 189 USPQ 248 (TTAB 1975); TMEP §§1301.04 et seq.


DRAWING SIZE and SPECIMEN SIZE: If filing for a stylized or design mark, ensure that before even attempting to begin the electronic filing process that the required JPG image file is in the proper pixel range (between 250 and 944 pixels, in any direction). If an image for a specimen, the pixel range is not an issue; instead, ensure that the overall size of the attachment does not exceed 5 megabytes.


Unacceptable Specimens

Example of a poor specimen: One typical rejection of marks for t-shirts and hats is showing the potential mark decorating the front of the item. According to USPTO rules, this type of use is ornamental  and not an indication of the source of the goods, the source would be on a tag or somewhere less conspicuous. Unless a better specimen and use of the mark are provided to the USPTO, this type of specimen will lead to the mark achieving no registration or only Supplemental Registration because of ‘Ornamental Use of the Mark.’

Note: A Supplemental Registration is a significant loss of rights (common law rights as well), especially if it could have been avoided by using a better specimen. See Comparison of Principal Register and Supplemental Register. A registration on the Supplemental Registration is an admission that the mark is not inherently distinctive, a slip in the foothold of  common law rights. See Inherently-Distinctive.com for more information on the importance of being inherently distinctive and for a quiz on Domain Names.


Another example of a poor specimen is a copy of an advertisement or label that already contains a ® even though the registrant is now just applying for the federal registration for first time. Registration in a state of the United States does not entitle a person to use the federal registration notice. Du-Dad Lure Co. v. Creme Lure Co., 143 USPQ 358 (TTAB 1964).

Improper use of a federal registration symbol that is deliberate and intended to deceive or mislead the public is fraud. TMEP 906.02 Improper Use of Registration Symbol.


A copy of an applicant’s logo is an unacceptable specimen as evidence of actual trademark use. The applicant must submit a specimen showing the mark as it is used in commerce in relation to the goods.  37 C.F.R Section 2.56.


A service mark specimen must show use of the mark “in the sale or advertising of services.”  Trademark Act Section 45, 15 U.S.C. §1127; 37 C.F.R. §2.56.  Therefore, a specimen is unacceptable if it does not show use of the service mark in relation to the identified services.  There must be a direct association between the mark sought to be registered and the services specified in the application, with sufficient reference to the services in the specimen to create this association.  In re Monograms America, Inc., 51 USPQ2d 1317 (TTAB 1999); In re Adair, 45 USPQ2d 1211 (TTAB 1997); In re Restonic Corp., 189 USPQ 248 (TTAB 1975); TMEP §§1301.04 et seq.


The right to register a mark with the USPTO is determined by both the application and the mark. A proper specimen  is a vital part of the application. Many  trademark refusals can be avoided or overcome by using Not Just Patents ® Trademark Services. Call us and ask for examples of how we can help at 1-651-500-7590.


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For more information from Not Just Patents, see our other sites:      

Steps to a Patent    How to Patent An Invention

Filing Requirements for Patent Applications

Trademark e Search    Strong Trademark     Enforcing Trade Names

Common Law Trademarks  Trademark Goodwill  Abandoned Trademarks

Should I Get A Trademark or Patent?

Patentability Evaluation

Trademark Disclaimers   Trademark Dilution     Oppose or Cancel?

Examples of Disclaimers  Business Name Cease and Desist

Sample Patent, Trademark & Copyright Inventory Forms

Verify a Trademark  Be First To File   How to Trademark Search

37 CFR § 1.53 Application number, filing date, and completion of application

Using Slogans (Taglines), Model Numbers as Trademarks

Which format? When Should I  Use Standard Characters?

Difference between Provisional and Nonprovisional Patent Application

Opposition Pleadings    UDRP Elements    Loss of Trademark Rights

How To Answer A Trademark Cease and Desist Letter

Shop Rights  What is a Small or Micro Entity?

Trademark Refusals    Does not Function as a Mark Refusals

Converting Provisional to Nonprovisional Patent Application (or claiming benefit of)

Acceptable Specimen       Supplemental Register  $199 Statement of Use

How To Show Acquired Distinctiveness Under 2(f)

Patent Pending see also Patent Marking

Trademark Attorney for Overcoming Office Actions

Functional Trademarks   How to Trademark     Surname Refusal

Patent Drawings

Grounds for Opposition & Cancellation     Cease and Desist Letter


Valid/Invalid Use of Trademarks     Trademark Searching

How to Respond to Office Actions

What is a Compact Patent Prosecution?


Examples and General Rules for Likelihood of Confusion

USPTO Search Method for Likelihood of Confusion

Examples of Refusals for Likelihood of Confusion  DuPont Factors

Patent search-New invention

Color as Trade Dress  3D Marks as Trade Dress

Patent Search-Non-Obvious

Ornamental Refusal  Standard TTAB Protective Order

How to Keep A Trade Secret

Descriptive Trademarks Trademark2e.com  Likelihood of Confusion 2d

State & Federal Trade Secret Laws

Merely Descriptive Trademarks   Merely Descriptive Refusals

Chart of Patent vs. Trade Secret

Register a Trademark-Step by Step   Trademark Fixer

ID of Goods and Services see also Headings (list) of International Trademark Classes

Likelihood of confusion-Circuit Court tests

Pseudo Marks    How to Reply to Cease and Desist Letter

Geographically Descriptive or Deceptive

Overcome Merely Descriptive Refusal   Overcome Likelihood Confusion

What Does ‘Use in Commerce’ Mean?    SCAM Letters

Section 2(d) Refusals   ApplyToTrademark.com

Trademark Incontestability  TTAB Manual (TBMP)

Typical Brand Name Refusals  What is a Family of Marks?

TTAB/TBMP Discovery Conferences & Stipulations

TBMP 113 Service of TTAB Documents  TBMP 309 Standing

Trademark Steps Trademark Registration Answers TESS  

Trademark Searching Using TESS  Trademark Search Tips

TSDR Trademark Status and Document Retrieval

What are Dead or Abandoned Trademarks? Can I Use An Abandoned Trademark?  Can I Abandon a Trademark During An Opposition?

Published for Opposition see also Opposition Steps/Cancellation Steps

Counterclaims and Affirmative Defenses

Differences between TEAS and TEAS plus  

How do I Know If Someone Has Filed for An Extension of Time to Oppose?

Protecting Trademark Rights (Common Law)

Steps in a Trademark Opposition Process

Zombie Trademark  Not Just Patents Often Represents the Underdog  

What Does Published for Opposition Mean?

What is the Difference between Principal & Supplemental Register? What If Someone Files An Opposition Against My Trademark?

Acquired Distinctiveness  2(f) or 2(f) in part

How to Respond Office Actions  DIY Overcoming Descriptive Refusals

Extension of Time to Oppose

Trademark Clearance Search   DIY Trademark Strategies


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