Specimens – Part II

To register your trademark in the U.S., you have to submit a “specimen.”

The Trademark Office is picky about what’s acceptable as a specimen. How picky? Let’s look.

The trademark in your specimen has to be exactly the same as the trademark in your application.

  • The two trademarks in the featured image are not the same
  • JUICY! is not the same as JUICY
  • GOOD & PLENTY is not the same as GOOD AND PLENTY

The specimen must show the trademark “on or in connection with” the goods and services in the application.

  • Specimens for goods should be a picture of the actual goods or the packaging with the trademark clearly visible.
  • For services, you can use website screen shots but it has to include the trademark and have plenty of content that talks about the services.

Merely ornamental

If your application is for T-shirts, hats, or other swag, the specimen can’t have the trademark blazoned across the front like a decoration. That specimen will almost always be rejected as “merely ornamental.

Stuff that NEVER works

Here are some items that will never work as a specimen.

  • Printer’s proof of an advertisement or brochure
  • Digitally created/altered image or mockup of the goods
  • Advertising material for goods
  • Online catalog or web page display for goods without ordering information and pricing
  • Invoices

Submitting an acceptable specimen can be the trickiest part of getting a registration. To get it right, you need to know and follow the rules.

Beyond Belief

Beyond Meat, Inc. applications & registrations

Beyond Meat Inc.’s application to register the trademark GREAT TASTE PLANT-BASED was rejected because it’s confusingly similar to the registered trademark WHERE GREAT TASTE IS PLANT BASED, which is owned by Sonate Corporation.

Sonate’s registration dates back to 2015. Beyond Meat filed its application in 2020. What was Beyond Meat thinking?

That’s not the only trademark problem Beyond Meat has encountered. Its application to register BEYOND BACON was rejected because of a registration owned by Crunchsters, Inc. for BEYOND BACON for plant-based snack foods.

Lots of other applications filed by Beyond Meat have died because they couldn’t show they were actually using the trademarks.

Here’s my Monday-morning-quarterback take on this: Beyond Meat’s trademark BEYOND is widely recognized. They should build their brand around that mark. You don’t need to own BEYOND MEATBALL to sell BEYOND brand plant-based meatball substitute. The packaging in the featured image nails the way Beyond Meat should be doing its branding.

As for a tagline.

Everybody and his brother in the plant-based food industry is using a tagline that rhymes “based” with “taste”. Beyond Meat needs a tagline that captures what’s unique about its products. Trademarks are meant to distinguish you from the competition not make you blend in.

Do better Beyond Meat.