What is a "first use date"?
A "first use date" is the date you first made any use of your mark in connection with offering the goods or services. Trademark rights in the U.S. are based on actual use of the mark, so the first use date is frequently used to determine priority of a mark. In other words, the party that uses a mark first in commerce for specific goods and services will have rights over subsequent users of a confusingly similar mark for related goods and services. It is best to identify the earliest date possible for each required first use date. Truthful and accurate dates of first use are imperative, as falsely identifying an earlier date or fabricating use that is not in the ordinary course of trade for the purpose of obtaining an earlier use date may constitute fraud on the USPTO (which could result in cancellation of the eventual registration). It is good practice to maintain business records showing the earliest date of first use listed in the application, which could be important evidence if a question of priority arises down the line.
In addition to providing the date of first use anywhere, you must also provide the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with the date of first use of the mark both in U.S. commerce as to each class of goods/services. Click here to learn more about use in commerce.