TMEP 904.07(b)(i): Action After Submission of Substitute Specimen

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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904.07(b)(i)    Action After Submission of Substitute Specimen

Because the examining attorney has advised the applicant of the appropriate response options, which may include the general requirements for a substitute specimen, if the applicant responds to the failure-to-function refusal by submitting a specimen that does not show the mark in use in commerce for a reason such as those set out in TMEP §904.07(a), the examining attorney must issue a final refusal, as no new issue is presented. For example, if the original specimen was refused as ornamental and the substitute specimen does not show the applied-for mark, the examining attorney may issue a final refusal. By contrast, if the applicant responds to the Office action refusing registration by submitting a substitute specimen that reflects failure to function as a mark for a different substantive reason, such as the examples listed in TMEP §904.07(b), the examining attorney must issue a new nonfinal Office action because the substitute specimen presents a new issue. For example, if the original specimen shows the mark used merely as a domain name, and the applicant submits a substitute specimen that shows the mark used in an ornamental manner, this presents a new issue. Therefore, the examining attorney must issue a new refusal as to the substitute specimen, and must maintain the prior failure-to-function refusal as to the original specimen and indicate that the substitute specimen did not obviate the initial refusal. If the applicant responds to the refusal by submitting a substitute specimen that fails to show the applied-for mark functioning as a trademark or service mark for the same reason as the original specimen (e.g., the original specimen was refused as ornamental and the substitute specimen also reflects ornamental use), this does not present a new issue and the examining attorney must issue a final Office action.

If the applicant responds to the failure-to-function refusal by submitting a substitute specimen, and unlike in the original specimen, the mark on the substitute specimen now does not agree with the mark on the drawing ( see TMEP §807.12), but the specimen would otherwise be acceptable to identify the goods/services of the applicant and indicate the source of those goods/services, the examining attorney may allow the applicant to amend the drawing if such an amendment would not constitute a material alteration of the mark.  If any remaining issues can be handled by examiner’s amendment, and the mark is a standard character mark, the examining attorney may give the applicant the option to amend the drawing by examiner’s amendment.  If not, the examining attorney should issue a final refusal that also gives the applicant the option to overcome the refusal by submitting a substitute drawing.

If an amendment of the drawing would be a material alteration, the examining attorney must issue a final refusal (assuming the application is otherwise in condition for final refusal), because the substitute specimen does not present a new issue. See TMEP §714.05.

See TMEP §714.05 regarding new issues requiring issuance of nonfinal action, §§1202 et seq. regarding matter that does not function as a trademark, and TMEP §§1301.02 et seq. regarding matter that does not function as a service mark.