Saturday, 12 November 2011

What is the Difference between a Trade Name and a Trademark?

Welcome to Trademark Law Radio, a top web resource on issues of trademark infringement, trademark licensing, trademark protection, and trademark registration.

This is Brian Hall, a trademark attorney with Traverse Legal, PLC, a law firm representing small businesses and middle-sized businesses throughout the world in all matters related to trademarks and IP protection.  Today, I will be answering the question: What is the difference between a trade name and a trademark? 

Let’s start with a trade name.  A trade name is the name by which a company does business.  So, for example, if you register your trade name in the State of Michigan, you need to make sure that that trade name is, first, available, and then you need to use that trade name followed by the moniker LLC or limited liability company, or Inc. for corporation or whatever type of entity it is.  Similarly, you may even register what’s known as an assumed name, or DBA.  This is a name which differs from the name you provide with the state upon registration, but may also be registered with the state since that it is the name you go by.  So, for example, if your company is Company, LLC, you may go by Company XYZ as your assumed name.  Selecting a trade name is not very complicated so long as you ensure that that name is available within the state registry.  So, whether you’re registering your business in Delaware, Michigan, Florida or some other state, you can look up to identify whether that trade name is available when you are going to register your company.


A trade name does differ from a trademark.  And oftentimes, companies get confused and feel that once they registration their trade name and are doing business that they have protected their trademark as well.  However, that is absolutely not true.  In order to acquire a trademark, you need to use that mark in commerce, and it has to be a distinctive mark.  More often than not, people protect their trademark by filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  And just to be clear, a trademark does differ from a trade name because of those separate registration requirements and separate use requirements in order to establish rights.  So, just because you have registered your trade name and are doing business under a name such as an LLC or a corporation, it does not mean that you have properly protected your trademark. 

So, it is imperative that companies don’t assume that once they have registered a business name with their state of incorporation that they have unlimited rights to that name.  This kind of assumption may lead to claims of trademark infringement from third parties and other unintended consequences.  You would be well-served to speak with a trademark attorney to ensure that (1) your trade name is properly registered and used, and then (2) that your trademark, which may correspond to your trade name or be different, is actually used properly and, more often than not, registered with the USPTO in such a way to provide you with the best protection and rights. 

Because of the possible complications your company would face in the event that you fail to register your trademark based upon your reliance on your trade name, it is worth speaking to a trademark attorney at the outset of your establishment of your business. 

Once again, this has been Brain Hall answering your question: what is the difference between a trade name and trademark.    I hope this was helpful for all of you. 

You’ve been listening to Trademark Law Radio. Whether you are facing a trademark infringement, licensing, monitoring or trademark registration issue, we have a trademark attorney ready to answer your questions.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference What is the Difference between a Trade Name and a Trademark? :

Official Trademark Clearinghouse Agent

Trademark Blog Homepage: Trademark Attorney, Lawyer: Trademark Registration & Trademark Infringement

Trademark Infringement: Cease & Desist Letter Help

  • Trademark Threats: 6 Reasons To Take Them Seriously
    Trademark attorney Enrico Schaefer explains what you should do when you receive a trademark cease and desist letter. Listen as he reviews 6 reasons why you should take any trademark threat letter seriously, and what you should do when you receive a cease and desist.
  • How to handle a trademark cease and desist letter?
    Trademark Attorney Brian Hall discusses what you should do when you receive a trademark cease and desist letter. What a trademark threat letter? Why trademark owners send trademark threat letters? What you should do when you receive a trademark infringement threat letter.

How to Trademark A Name?

  • How to Register a Trademark - USPTO
    You can establish rights in a mark based on legitimate use of the mark. However, owning a Federal trademark registration on the Principal Register provides several advantages ... here is how.
  • Types of U.S. Trademarks - USPTO
    Specific types of trademarks include: Service marks which identify and distinguish the source of a service rather than a product; Certification marks are used by someone other than its owner, to certify quality or other characteristics of such person's goods or services; Collective marks are trademarks or service marks used by the members of a collective group or organization.
  • Definition of a "Trademark"- USPTO
    A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, or design, or any combination used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to indicate the source of the goods. In short, a trademark is a brand name.
  • How To Copyright and Trademark a Catchphrase!
    Wondering how to trademark a catchphrase? You should also think about how to copyright a catchphrase. Some intellectual property can be protected by both a trademark and copyright registration.


Domain attorney recommended by
© 2011 Traverse Legal, PLC. All Rights Reserved.
Traverse Legal on LinkedInTraverse Legal on FacebookTraverse Legal on Twitter
Events & Conferences:
  • International Trademark Association 2011, San Francisco, California
  • Cyber Law Summit 2011, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Game Developers Conference 2011, San Francisco, California
  • DOMAINfest 2011, Santa Monica, California
Recent Attorney Speaking Engagements:
  • South By Southwest 2010 SXSW Interactive Conference, Austin, Texas
  • West LegalEdcenter Midwestern Law Firm Management, Chicago, Illinois
  • Internet Advertising under Part 255, Altitude Design Summit, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Online Defamation and Reputation Management, News Talk 650 AM, The Cory Kolt Show, Canada Public Radio Saskatewan Canada
  • Alternative Fee Structures, Center for Competitive Management, Jersey City, New Jersey
  • FTC Part 255 Advertising Requirements, Mom 2.0 Conference, Houston, Texas
  • Webmaster Radio, Cybersquatting & Domain Monetization, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Notable Complex Litigation Cases Handled By Our Lawyers:
  • Trademark Infringement, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Cybersquatting Law, Trademark Law and Dilution Detroit, Michigan
  • Internet Defamation & Online Libel Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Trade Secret Theft, Chicago, Illinois
  • Cybersquatting Law, Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act Miami, Florida
  • Cybersquatting Law, Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act Eastern Dist. of Virginia, Alexandria
  • Stolen Domain Name, Orlando, Florida
  • Commercial Litigation, Tampa, Florida
  • Copyright Infringement and Cybersquatting Law, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Mass Tort Litigation, Los Angeles, California
  • Stolen Domain Name, Detroit, Michigan
  • Adwords Keyword Trademark Infringement, Los Angeles, California
  • Trademark Infringement & Unfair Competition, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Non-Compete Agreement and Trade Secret Theft, Detroit, Michigan
  • Mass Tort, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Mass Tort, Tyler, Texas
  • Insurance Indemnity, New York
  • Copyright Infringement, Detroit, Michigan