Thursday, October 18, 2007

Specimens: Not Just for Guys in White Coats Anymore

Picking up where we left off on Tuesday, I think it'd be a good idea to start with, well, starting. I recommend anyone looking into starting a clothing line to check out PowerHomeBiz's article about that very subject.

Okay, let's assume that you're at the trademark stage for your clothing line: you've had comprehensive research conducted; the analysis on the research has been done; and (yay!) your name is clear. Now the next step is filing for the Federal trademark.

Part of the USPTO application process involves sending the Federal government proof of how the mark is used whether it's used for goods or for services. The USPTO calls this the specimen.

I'll devote the rest of the post explaining specimens as a whole. Next week, we'll get into specimens as they pertain to the clothing industry.

Okay, first, what is a specimen? While it sounds very laboratory-ish, it's really not too complicated. Basically, the USPTO needs to see a real-world example of how your mark is used for the goods and/or services.

If you're selling goods (aka products), the specimen must be "a tag or label for the goods; a container for the goods; a display associated with the goods; or a photograph of the goods that shows use of the mark on the goods."

If you're selling services, the specimen must be "a sign; a brochure about the services; an advertisement for the services; a business card or stationery showing the mark in connection with the services; or a photograph showing the mark as used in rendering or advertising the services."

For either goods or services, it must have two important things: (1) the mark and (2) it's gotta be OBVIOUS what the goods and/or services are just by looking/reading the specimen.

Let's look at some examples to illustrate this:

1) You've got a name & a logo that you're using for your cosmetics line. To provide proof to the USPTO of your mark's use, you could submit a picture of a tag that's attached to a tangible product. Take a look at Sephora's specimen, which illustrates this perfectly.

2) You've got a name that you're using for your online retail store services. To provide proof to the USPTO of your mark's use, you could submit a screen shot of your web site. Take a look at's specimen.

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