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Trademark Specimen Dos and Don’ts

A trademark indicates the source or origin of a good or service. A trademark owner is required to submit proof of use in commerce through a specimen, which is a sample of a trademark’s use in real life: a photo of packaging or labels or a screenshot of a website with a price and shopping cart button for goods. For services, a specimen may consist of marketing material showing the trademark with the services.


  • Include the URL and date of capture for website screenshots.
  • Match the specimen sample to the applied-for trademark exactly.
  • Show the full trademark and legibly [Is something missing, or should this say “Show the full, legible trademark.” or “Show the full trademark, making sure it’s legible.”?]
  • For goods, show the trademark with a picture or description of the goods.
  • Mail a physical specimen only for flavor, scent, or other non-traditional trademarks; otherwise submit specimens electronically.


  • Provide drafts, mock-ups, outlines, or altered images of trademark use: Specimens must reflect actual use in interstate commerce.
  • Photos with white background (because of concerns that the specimens could look fake).
  • Submit other’s use of the trademark, such as specimens taken from social media news or press releases.
  • Show a merely informational specimen, unassociated with the sale of the goods or services.
  • Use advertising material as a specimen for goods.
  • Offer specimen used only in business dealings, such as business stationery or invoices.
Category: Intellectual Property, Trademarks