A specimen or proof of use is a sample of your trademark as used in commerce. It is real-life evidence of how you are actually using your trademark in the marketplace, with the goods or services included in its description.
The USPTO requirements for proofs of use are:
- Be a real example of how you use your trademark in commerce in providing your goods or services (not a mock up, printer’s proof, digitally altered image, rendering of intended packaging, or draft of a website that shows how your mark might appear). For example, specimens against a solid color background, which may indicate that they were digitally created, can be rejected.
- Show your trademark used with the goods or services listed in your application.
- Depict the same trademark as shown on your drawing.
- Show your use of your trademark (not use by someone else, such as press releases sent exclusively to news media).
- Be an appropriate type of specimen based on whether you have goods or services. For example, advertising material is an acceptable specimen for services, but not for goods.
- Show your trademark used in a way that directly associates the mark with the goods or services.
- Show your trademark used in a way that consumers would perceive it as a source indicator for the good or services in your application (it functions as a trademark).
- Include the URL and date you accessed or printed the webpage in your submission.
Some proof of use examples for goods are a photograph, scanned copy, screen capture, or printout of:
- The goods themselves, showing your mark.
- Labels and tags for the goods, showing the mark, with informational matter that typically appears on a label in use in commerce for those types of goods, such as net weight, volume, UPC bar codes, lists of contents or ingredients, or other information that is not part of the mark but provides information about the goods.
- Packaging for the goods, showing the mark.
- Sales displays where the goods are sold, showing the mark.
- Webpages selling the goods, showing the mark on or in close proximity to the goods, the price, and a shopping-cart button. In your screenshot or printout, you must include the URL and date you accessed or printed the webpage.
- For software as goods, a screenshot of the software launch screen showing the mark or a screenshot of a webpage with enough information to download the software and the mark appearing in the title bar.
Some proof of use examples for services are:
- Online advertising or printed matter showing a direct link association between your trademark and the services.
- Television and radio commercials for the services.
- Marketing material showing a direct association between your trademark and the services (brochures or leaflets advertising your service).
- Signage where the services are rendered.
- Material used in the providing/rendering of the services.
- Invoices showing a direct association between your trademark and the services.
- Business cards and letterhead showing a direct association between your trademark and the services.
To see images of some of these examples of acceptable proofs of use, visit the USPTO’s webpage “Specimens”.
It is important to review the requirements and examples since the USPTO is becoming stricter when it comes to the proofs of use.
Examiners may visit the websites from which the specimens have been obtained to verify that goods and services are real and currently available to the American consumer.