Monday, April 6, 2009

Trademark Specimen for Software Development Services

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Dear Rich: I offer software development services through my website. I applied  for a federal trademark registration for my service mark and I uploaded a specimen which was an image of the trademark taken from my homepage that included the words "custom software design and support services." The trademark examiner said it wasn't acceptable because it "does not show the applied-for mark in actual use in commerce in the sale or advertising of the services." What did I do wrong and how can I fix this? I'm so glad you asked. A specimen for a service mark must identify the applicant's services -- which you did -- and it must indicate their source -- which you apparently failed to do. The Dear Rich staff reviewed your specimen (a screen capture) and noted that it lacked evidence that it was from your website.You should submit a substitute specimen showing the mark in the context of the webpage, preferably with the URL and a displayed method of contacting you -- for example, a "contact us" button.  In addition, you must file a declaration that states: "The substitute specimen was in use in commerce at least as early as the filing date of the application." By the way, as a service mark owner, you can submit a non-website specimen instead -- for example, you can submit letterhead, an invoice, or a business card -- provided it displays the mark, describes the services, and demonstrates a method of contacting you. The USPTO offers more information about service mark specimens. And speaking of services, Nolo now offers online assistance for those who wish to apply for federal trademark registration.