TMEP 1304.02(a)(i)(C): Specimens

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1304.02(a)(i)(C)    Specimens

The owner of a collective membership mark exercises control over the use of the mark but does not itself use the mark to indicate membership. Therefore, a proper specimen of use of a collective membership mark must show use by members to indicate membership in the collective organization. 37 C.F.R. §2.56(b)(4); In re Int’l Ass’n for Enterostomal Therapy, Inc., 218 USPQ 343 (TTAB 1983); In re Triangle Club of Princeton Univ., 138 USPQ 332 (TTAB 1963).

The most common types of specimens are membership cards and certificates. The applicant may submit as a specimen a blank or voided membership card or certificate.

For trade or professional associations, decals bearing the mark for use by members on doors or windows in their establishments, wall plaques bearing the mark, or decals or plates for use, e.g., on members’ vehicles, are satisfactory specimens. If the members are in business and place the mark on their business stationery to show their membership, pieces of such stationery are acceptable. Flags, pennants, and banners of various types used in connection with political parties, club groups, or the like could be satisfactory specimens.

Many associations, particularly fraternal societies, use jewelry such as pins, rings, or charms to indicate membership. See In re Triangle Club of Princeton Univ., supra. However, not every ornamental design on jewelry is necessarily an indication of membership. The record must show that the design on a piece of jewelry is actually an indication of membership before the jewelry can be accepted as a specimen of use. See In re Inst. for Certification of Computer Prof’ls, 219 USPQ 372 (TTAB 1983) (in view of contradictory evidence in record, specimen with nothing more than CCP thereon was not considered evidence of membership); In re Mountain Fuel Supply Co., 154 USPQ 384 (TTAB 1967) (design on specimen did not indicate membership in organization, but merely showed length of service).

Shoulder, sleeve, pocket, or similar patches, or lapel pins, whose design constitutes a membership mark and which are authorized by the parent organization for use by members on garments to indicate membership, are normally acceptable as specimens. Clothing authorized by the parent organization to be worn by members may also be an acceptable specimen.

A specimen that shows use of the mark by the collective organization itself, rather than by a member, is not acceptable. Collective organizations often publish various kinds of printed material, such as catalogs, directories, bulletins, newsletters, magazines, programs, and the like. Placement of the mark on these items by the collective organization represents use of the mark as a trademark or service mark to indicate that the collective organization is the source of the material. The mark is not placed on these items by the parent organization to indicate membership of a person in the organization.

See TMEP §904.07(a) regarding whether a trademark or service mark specimen shows the mark used in commerce.

See TMEP §1304.03(b) regarding specimen refusals specific to collective membership marks.