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What is the "use in commerce" requirement for trademarks?

A fundamental requirement for trademark registration in the United States is demonstrating "use in commerce." Use in commerce means the mark is used to sell or transport goods or services across state lines or with international commerce. This use must be bona fide, meaning it's an actual commercial use and not just created for the purpose of trademark registration.

How can "use in commerce" be demonstrated?

For goods (tangible products), "use in commerce" can be demonstrated through:

  • A. Providing a specimen showing the mark as used on the goods or their packaging. This could be a label, tag, or container bearing the mark. 

  • B. Providing clear photographs of the product with the mark visible or of the mark as it appears in marketing materials can be submitted. 

  • C. Providing evidence of sales, such as invoices, receipts, or other documentation showing the transaction of goods associated with the mark.

For services, 'use in commerce' can be demonstrated through:

  • A. Providing samples of advertising and marketing materials, such as brochures, flyers, and websites, that display the mark in a way that associates it with the services offered. 

  • B. Providing photos of signage or other displays using the mark to provide services, such as at a business location or during a service-related event, can be submitted. 

  • C. Providing service-related documents such as invoices, contracts, or other documents that demonstrate the rendering of services under the mark.

What is a statement of use?

A Statement of Use (SOU) must be filed after an 'intent-to-use' trademark application is approved. This legal document attests to the mark's use in commerce, allowing the trademark application to be registered. The SOU must include the relevant specimens demonstrating the mark's use in commerce, the date it was first used anywhere, and the date it was first used in commerce.

In the SOU, it is important to provide clear, legible specimens that unequivocally show the mark being used in commerce and to make sure the goods or services listed align with the actual use of the mark in commerce.

Need advice on how to show use in commerce?

Demonstrating use in commerce is a critical step in securing a trademark registration. It requires careful planning and attention to detail to ensure that the evidence clearly shows the mark in use with the goods or services. By adhering to USPTO requirements and avoiding common pitfalls, applicants can effectively demonstrate use in commerce and strengthen their trademark applications.

To discuss how to show use in commerce for a trademark, contact TCP Law at or John Laurence by phone at 917-612-1059.


John Laurence TCP Law, Trademark Patent Copyright Lawyer

TCP Law focuses on helping individuals and businesses develop, secure, and enforce their intellectual property rights.

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