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Specimens are required during the initial application of a mark in a Use In Commerce trademark application (also called a 1a federal trademark registration application).
Specimens are not required during the initial application of a mark in an Intent to Use trademark application (also called a 1b federal trademark registration application), but is required at some point before a registration will be issued.
A specimen in a trademark application shows that the mark is being used in commerce, or in other words, directly attached to a good or service sold and controlled by federal law (usually meaning, sold across state lines in the USA).
A specimen is a digital picture or other electronic image of the mark on the good or service, such as a clothing label or a website for a construction company. The picture or electronic image is uploaded in the application in the TEAS system (the Trademark Office web portal for filing an initial trademark application or other documents related to an ongoing trademark application).
For goods, a trademark specimen can be a scanned copy, photograph, or other reproduction of: (a) a label, tag, or container (TMEP 904.03); (b) a commercial display directly associated with the good (TMEP 904.03(g)); or (c) a webpage which "(1) contains a picture or textual description of the identified goods; (2) shows the mark in association with the goods; and (3) provides a means for ordering the identified goods" (TMEP 904.03(i)).
For services, a servicemark specimen should show the mark in the sale, rendering, or advertising of the services. The mark should be in direct association with the services. Acceptable specimen examples are: brochures, billboards, websites, etc. (TMEP 1301.04, (a), (f)(ii), h(iv)(C)).
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