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In-Use Trademark Applications and Their Specimens

So you've got a fantastic product or service, and you're ready to protect that brand with a trademark. Congrats! One crucial part of the trademark registration process is submitting a specimen showing how you use the mark in commerce. But what exactly is an in-use trademark application, and what kind of specimens do you need to provide?

First off, an in-use trademark application means that you're already using the mark in connection with your goods or services. This is different from an intent-to-use application, where you're planning to use the mark in the future but haven't started yet.

As for specimens, think of them as proof of how you're using the mark. The USPTO wants to see how your customers will associate the mark with your product or service. So, for example, if you're selling drum sets with a cool logo, you'd want to submit a photo of the drum set with the logo on it. If you're offering a service like website design, you might submit screenshots of your website that show the mark in use. It's important to note that the specimen should match how you described using the mark in your application. So if you said you're using your mark on drum sets, don't submit a specimen of the logo on a hat.

Examples of specimens for in-use trademark applications include:

  • Labels or tags attached to the goods

  • Packaging for the goods

  • Advertisements featuring the trademark in use

  • Websites that display the trademark in use

What to Keep in Mind When Submitting a Specimen

When submitting a specimen in an in-use trademark application, it is vital to keep the following in mind:

  • The specimen must show the trademark in use with the goods or services identified in the application.

  • The specimen must be representative of the trademark’s actual use in commerce.

  • The specimen cannot be altered or manipulated in any way.


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