I’ve detailed the concept of specimens before but it’s a good idea to get into details about specimens as they apply to trademarks.
The simplest explanation is that the USPTO wants something that clearly shows the mark (i.e. the name, the name & logo, etc.) AND something that once read it is obvious that the mark is tied to the good.
In regard to trademarks, this can be accomplished several ways: "a label, tag, or container for the goods, or a display associated with the goods."
1) The Hanes clothing line has been in existence since 1901. One of the specimens they've provided for one of their many trademarks is a photograph of the tag printed on to their t-shirts. Check it out here.
2) Cover Girl is another well known American business, operating since 1958. One of the specimens they've provided over the years falls into the 'container' category, specifically the packaging lipstick comes in. You can see it here.
What is NOT a Trademark? Now that we’ve determined what a trademark is, let’s get into more detail about what a trademark is not.
Here are just a couple of examples. If there's something that you're not sure can be protected by a trademark, shoot me a line: Shannon@tmexpress.com
1) Trade Name
It can be easy to confuse trademarks and trade names so let's get into some detail here. "The terms 'trade name' and 'commercial name' mean any name used by a person to identify his or her business or vocation," is the USPTO provided definition.
Now, a name can be both a trade name AND a trademark. The USPTO determines this based on the specimen.
Here are a couple of examples to illustrate this:
a) "It is our opinion that the foregoing material reflects use by applicant of the notation 'UNCLAIMED SALVAGE & FREIGHT CO.' merely as a commercial, business, or trade name serving to identify applicant as a viable business entity; and that this is or woul…
While the USPTO does use the term trademark to denote businesses offering goods or services, there is a distinction between a trademark and a service mark. To be clear, there is no difference between trademarks or service marks when it comes to needing comprehensive research or filing a Federal application. All of that remains the same.
For the most part determining if you're offering goods or services is pretty simple. For instance, toys are a tangible good therefore Mattel® is technically a trademark while tax preparation is a service there H&R Block® is technically a service mark.
There are plenty of companies that have both. Nike®, for one, offers a line of branded goods as well as retail store services, therefore, they technically hold a service mark / trademark combination.Where folks get confused when it comes to trademarks is mistaking products or goods for services. Let's take a look at the USPTO's criteria for determining what is or isn'…