Trademark use isn’t always as obvious as you might think. For example, the design on a sweatshirt or t-shirt (which might be why you notice and purchase the shirt) is not trademark use (it is decorative or ornamental use). For trademark use look to the label inside the sweatshirt or t-shirt or the hang tag. In the photo below, the GAP trademark on the label inside the sweatshirt is an example of trademark use verses the same three letters “GAP” on the front of the sweatshirt which is a decorative or ornamental use of the word. This difference in the placement and use of GAP determines if the word is being used as a trademark. Trademark use is important for brand owners to understand so they can protect their trademarks and apply for USPTO trademark registration. A critical element to most USPTO trademark applications is showing the USPTO how the trademark is being used.
Trademark use can also be found on websites, product packaging, displays and instruction manuals too.
For more information on trademark use and specimens of trademark use, see the TMEP (Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure) at https://tmep.uspto.gov/RDMS/TMEP/current#/current/TMEP-900d1e636.html
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.