Statement of Use Trademark Guide: Mastering the Registration Process

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In the realm of trademark law, the Statement of Use (SOU) is a critical component, acting as a crucial link between the intention to use a trademark and its actual application in commerce. This article offers an in-depth look into the SOU, a key element in mastering the trademark registration journey.

Understanding the Statement of Use (SOU)

The SOU, required by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), is pivotal for trademarks filed under the “Intent-to-Use” basis. It serves as proof that the trademark is not just an idea but is being actively used in the market.

This transition from intent to actual use is crucial. 

Why? Because the USPTO wants to ensure that trademarks are not just being reserved without genuine intent to use them in commerce.

From Intent-to-Use to Actual Use

Filing a trademark with future use intentions reserves the right to it. However, the real challenge lies in demonstrating its active use in commerce, which is where the SOU becomes essential.

When you file a trademark application with the intent to use it in the future, you’re essentially reserving the right to that trademark. 

In order to complete the registration process, you must eventually prove that you’ve started using the trademark in commerce. This is where the SOU comes into play.

The SOU's Significance

This document is more than a procedural step; it’s a declaration to the USPTO and the market that the trademark is in active use, playing a crucial role in securing trademark rights.

The Role of the USPTO

The USPTO oversees the registration process. An examining attorney reviews the SOU to ensure compliance and authentic representation of the trademark in the marketplace.

Extensions and Timelines

The process involves strict timelines. Post the initial Notice of Allowance, you have six months to submit the SOU, with possible extensions. Keep in mind, there’s a cap on these extensions, ensuring a balance between flexibility for businesses and maintaining the integrity of the trademark system.

After the initial Notice of Allowance is issued, the clock starts ticking.

But what if your brand isn’t ready for commerce within the stipulated six months?

The USPTO offers extension requests. Each extension provides an additional six months, allowing businesses to adequately prepare their goods or services for the market. An important note is that there’s a limit to these extensions. After a series of extension requests, the USPTO expects to see the trademark in action.

Value of a Trademark Attorney

A trademark attorney is vital in navigating this process, ensuring compliance with USPTO requirements, handling extension requests, and addressing any concerns.

Embracing Digital: The TEAS System

The Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) modernizes the filing process, streamlining SOU submissions and extension requests.

The Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) has revolutionized how applicants interact with the USPTO.

This online form system simplifies the filing process, allowing applicants to submit their SOU, pay the required filing fee, and even request extensions.

Keep in mind that there are nuances of TEAS and ensuring that all information, from the serial number of the application to the proper statement of use, is accurately provided can expedite the registration process.

SOU Essentials

When filing an SOU, trademark applicants must consider several essential components:

  1. Date of First Use: This is the date when the trademark was first used in commerce.
  2. Specimen: A sample showing the trademark as used in the marketplace. This could range from photos of products with the trademark to advertising materials, depending on whether the trademark is for goods or services.
  3. Signed Declaration: An affirmation that the trademark is being used in commerce.

The Importance of Actual Use

Actual use implies the genuine application of the trademark in commerce, which must be bona fide and substantial, not just tokenistic.

This refers to the genuine use of the trademark in buying and selling goods or services. Token uses or trivial uses just to speed up the process won’t qualify. The use should be bona fide, meaning genuine and not just for the sake of reserving rights in the trademark.

In the case of a clothing brand, the trademark must be on a physical shirt and not simply a 3D rendering.  The brand must also be located on the breast pocket or where the tag on the inside portion of the shirt would go.  It is also important to not make the name or logo too large as it could cause the USPTO to refuse the filing as being ornamental.

The Financial Aspect: Understanding Filing Fees

One cannot overlook the financial implications of the trademark application process. The USPTO filing fee, while a necessary investment, can vary based on the specifics of your application. 

The SOU has its associated fee, but if you find yourself needing to request extensions, additional costs come into play. It’s essential to budget for these expenses early on. 

Be mindful of the USPTO filing fees and additional costs for extensions, especially if your application covers multiple classes of goods or services.

The Filing Process

The SOU filing, done through TEAS, includes a fee and adherence to specific timelines, with extensions available if necessary.

It’s also worth noting that there are specific timelines to consider. After receiving a Notice of Allowance (NOA) from the USPTO, applicants have six months to either file an SOU or request an extension. 

If the trademark hasn’t been used within this period, extensions can be requested, giving applicants more time to meet the requirements.

The Importance of Proper Specimens

Your specimen must convincingly demonstrate the trademark’s use in the market, forming a strong basis for your brand’s identity.

The SOU is the specimen showing actual use. 

Whether it’s a product label, a screenshot of a website, or an advertising material, the specimen should clearly showcase the trademark. 

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Common errors include inadequate specimens, missing deadlines, and filing under the wrong entity. Awareness and proactive measures are key to a smooth process.

One common mistake is the submission of specimens that don’t adequately show the mark in commerce.

Another is missing the statutory deadline for filing the SOU post receiving the Notice of Allowance. There’s also the risk of filing under the wrong party, which can lead to complications down the road. Being aware of these common errors and proactively avoiding them can save time, money, and potential legal challenges.

Another common mistake is having a website that shows or discloses the product, however, the product is not available for purchase.  If you are using a website as a specimen, a trademark examiner must be able to go to the website and actually be able to purchase the product from the website should they so desire.

A Global Perspective

Considering international trademark laws is crucial for brands looking to expand beyond the US, as each jurisdiction has unique requirements.

The Future of Trademarks: Staying Updated

The world of trademarks is ever-evolving. With technological advancements, shifts in commerce patterns, and changes in consumer behavior, the landscape of trademark protection is in constant flux. 

The rise of downloadable software and digital services has added new dimensions to how trademarks are perceived and protected. 

Staying updated with these changes, understanding the latest USPTO requirements, and adapting to the evolving landscape are crucial for brands looking to maintain strong trademark protection.


The Statement of Use (SOU) is a vital affirmation of your trademark’s active presence in the market. Understanding its nuances and the importance of actual use paves the way for successful trademark registration and long-term brand protection.


Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles, and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinions and views of the author as of the time of publication.


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