Drawings and specimens as application requirements

A drawing and a specimen are not the same. A drawing shows what the trademark is. A specimen shows how you’re actually using your trademark with your goods or services. Make sure that the way your trademark appears on your specimen is appropriate based on your drawing type.

Drawing type and how this affects your submission requirements

Your application must include a depiction of the trademark you want to register, known as a "drawing." A drawing can show your trademark in either standard characters or special form. Standard character drawings are text only with no stylization, color, or design. Special form drawings are stylized, include color, or have a design.

You decide which version of your trademark goes in the drawing. The type of drawing you select affects the kind of protection you receive. If the wording is the most important part of your trademark, consider a standard character drawing. If a design element or stylization is more important, consider a special form drawing. Generally, registering a trademark in standard characters will provide the broadest protection.

Learn more about the types of drawings, the protections they provide, and how their requirements differ.

One trademark per application

An application is limited to one trademark. If you have one trademark with multiple variations, you can only file one variation of that trademark per application. Therefore, if you want to register all the variations of your trademark, you must file a separate application for each variation.

For example, if your trademark is Nike, you might file four separate applications:

  • A standard character drawing for the term “Nike.”
  • A special form drawing for the term “Nike” in stylized font.
  • A special form drawing for the swoosh design.
  • A special form drawing for the combined swoosh design and the term “Nike” in stylized font.

It’s your choice whether to file for one or more variations of your trademark. It all depends on your particular situation and what trademark or variations of your trademark are most important to you. Small businesses without a lot of financial resources often elect to only file a standard character drawing of their trademark, since it provides broad protection for the text in any depiction or color. Larger businesses with more resources might file for every possible variation. Choose the drawing type that fits your needs and resources.

Specimens as evidence of use of the trademark

You must provide a specimen to register your trademark with a use-in-commerce filing basis. A specimen shows how you actually use your trademark in commerce with the goods or services you identified in your application. It’s proof of what consumers see in the marketplace.

For example, to register your trademark for goods, your specimen might be a photograph showing your trademark on a label or hangtag attached to your goods. It could also be a photograph of your trademark on the packaging for your goods or on the goods themselves. Customers must directly associate your trademark with your goods.

To register your trademark for services, your specimen might be a photograph of an advertisement or brochure that shows your trademark used with those services. You could also provide a screenshot of your website, if your trademark appears on the website either advertising or providing your services. If you use a website screenshot, you must include the URL and the date you accessed the website. Customers must directly associate your trademark with your services.

Remember, a drawing and a specimen are different things. See what’s required for an acceptable specimen.

DISCLAIMER: References to particular trademarks, service marks, certification marks, products, services, companies, or organizations appearing on this page are for illustrative and educational purposes only and do not constitute or imply endorsement by the U.S. government, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or any other federal agency.