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What is a specimen?

A specimen is one of the things which must be supplied to the Patent and Trademark Office during the process of applying for a federal trademark registration. It is an item that serves as an example of a trademark in use, and evidence of the trademark’s use. When the application is based on actual use in commerce, the application must include this specimen. Examples of appropriate specimens include a sample product packaging showing the mark being used on the package, or a photograph of the goods showing the use of the mark on the goods (the actual goods should not be sent to the PTO). When the application is based on an intent to use, rather than actual use, the specimen is not filed with the application (since the mark is not being used yet) but is filed later with the statement of use.