Trade Names and Trademarks: Why You Need Both
Trade Names and Trademarks
Why You Need Both
Ok, so let’s talk about trade names and trademarks as they relate to your business name.
Is your business name also your trademark? Possibly… but not necessarily. It is very common for a business to identify itself in the marketplace using its legally registered business name. However, trademarks and business names are not always the same.
There are two types of business names:
- The legal name (the trade name), and
- The name the business uses to brand its good and services (the trademark).
It is important to recognize this distinction as they afford different protections to the owner.
Names that identify business entities are trade names and must be registered with the local Secretary of State, Corporation Commissioner’s Office, or other authorized state or county level agency that keeps track of business names. The name must also be distinguishable from any other name registered or reserved in your state.
Trademarks do not have to be registered to be protected, BUT… having a trademark registration strengthens your claim and saves you financial and mental stress if and when someone else attempts to use your mark without your permission.
A trade name can act as a trademark when the name is used as a source identifier for a company’s goods or services. For instance, if a company uses a shortened version of its legal name to identify its goods or services, then the trade name may become the trademark.
Guess what… just because you have a registered trade name does not mean that you are not infringing on another’s trademark rights!
If another person already has trademark protection rights in your company’s name, your company will not be able to use its legal name to brand its goods or services. Period. However, the company may still use the name as an identifier of the company in business transactions such as contracts, bank accounts and tax filings. So, your legal name and the name you use to brand your goods or services will be different… and that’s perfectly ok. For instance, Gap, Inc. is a company’s legal name while they market under several brands including Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta, etc.
DON’T FORGET TO TRADEMARK THAT BRAND NAME! This is important people.
Moral of the story… Your business name is not always your trademark, but it is ALWAYS your trade name. So, don’t get too comfortable just because you’ve registered your business name with your Secretary of State or other authorized agency. You must go a step further and register a trademark with the USPTO. If it turns out that someone is already be using that name to brand their goods or services, then you cannot use that business name as your brand. You’re going to have to choose another brand to identify your products.
Want to know the best way to avoid getting into this type of mess?? DO A COMPREHENSIVE CLEARANCE SEARCH.
You know we talked about this before. I hope you’ve been paying attention. If not… go back and check your inbox my friend. You need this info.
I have said it once, twice, and I’ll say it fifty times more… We can help you with this! When you are ready, come on over to New Millennia Legal Resources to register your trademark. We offer a trademark package that takes care of the trademarking process for you. Our package includes a comprehensive clearance search with a detailed report and explanation, trademark registration, a timely procedural response to an issued office action, one full year of trademark monitoring with weekly updates, and one-month FREE access to our New Millennia Legal Resources membership.
So… if you are ready to be fully protected while building your business and brand, we’re here with open arms!
Eloise Kaiser joined New Millennia Legal Resources mid-year 2019 as the Senior Client Liaison. She is a New Orleans native and graduate of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. As a natural creative in her own right, she holds a special interest in business and intellectual property law.