Commonly, unrepresented applicants registering marks for apparel in International Class 25 will submit pictures of their mark across the front of a shirt as a Trademark Specimen for Clothing. This could be a word, phrase, slogan, or design they wish to popularize and market for apparel. However, even though these could be eligible for trademark protection in this class, the specimen submitted to the USPTO must feature the mark in a manner that is source indicative. Large screen printed or embroidered text or designs on the front of garments rarely meet this exacting standard. The USPTO may refuse a specimen for being “merely ornamental” or a “decorative feature.”

Trademark Specimen for Clothing

In order to register any mark with the USPTO, you must submit a trademark specimen  for clothing of how you actually use the mark in commerce. More often than not, this means a picture of the goods as they are sold or the services as they appear to the customer.

Ornamental Refusal – A common mistake when submitting specimen for apparel or clothing trademarks.

Here are some tips to ensure your trademark specimen  for clothing will be accepted by the US Patent & Trademark Office:

  • If placing the mark on the outside of the garment, it should go where would expect to see other brand’s marks, like the pocket, breast area, or sleeve and keep it small and neat. Most athletic polo and golf shirts offer great examples.
  • Many places inside the garment will be adequate. Silk tags and “tagless” under-collar screen-printing are usually acceptable locations.
  • Anything detachable from the garment, like plastic or cellophane wrapping, boxes, or hang-tags usually qualify.
  • Though not ideal, sometimes featuring the mark along with the goods in an online store can function as a source indicator.

If you’ve already received an ornamental refusal for your apparel trademark application, it’s not too late to fix your mistake. Since you’ll need to prepare important documents and critical dates and evidence are crucial to proving your case, it may be time to hire a trademark attorney. If you’d like our help or have any questions before filing, please call

By Richard Piercy Patent & Trademark Attorney.

(404) 596-7333

Call for a Free Consultation.  Experienced & Affordable.

Grell & Watson, Patent Attorney, Trademark Copyright IP Lawyer