This term refers to uses of a trademark that are purely for the purpose of securing rights in a that mark, as opposed to any true interest in or expectation of making commercial sales. A manufacturer may, for example, sporadically ship a few boxes bearing the mark, but does so with no particular intention that the mark will become associated with the source of the goods.
If a mark becomes challenged on the grounds of abandonment, the trademark owner will need to prove use in commerce, and token uses will not suffice. Such token uses were more common prior to the 1988 revision of the Trademark Act in which the Intent to Use procedure was added. The Intent to Use application eliminated the need to secure an early priority date in a mark without actually using it. However, token uses are still continue in an effort by some to avoid the result of abandonment.