Trademarks vs Trade Names: Key Distinctions

In our previous article we mentioned that although trade names and trademarks sound similar, they have completely different legal implications. In this article we will discuss about legal implications of registering a trademark.

A trademark is a more significant step identified with establishing brand recognition in the marketplace. A trademark can be associated with, or part of, your trade name, and can be used to provide legal protection for the use of names, logos, symbols, words, phrases, slogans, or other designs that help customers identify your company.

A trademark requires separate registration from a trade name. You must register your trademark with the state authority in charge of intellectual property matters. The registration of a trademark guarantees a business the exclusive use of the trademark, establishes legally that the trademark was not already being used by any other business entity or person prior to your registration of it and provides official government protection from any other business subsequently infringing on your registered trademark. In other words, when you register your trademark, you hold several legal rights. You are the only one allowed to use, copy, profit from, distribute the registered trademark, and no other company or person can use that trademark. This process also establishes your ownership of the trademark as a unique and protected element of your business. Your trade name might also be included in the trademark that now has that legal protection. If any other person or company tries to use something similar, you have the right to take legal action. It also provides legal liability protection against someone subsequently claiming that you are infringing on a previously registered trademark.

In registering a trademark, you or your business can directly register the trademark, or you can choose to have a licensed intellectual property agent (IP agent) do it for you. Having an IP agent handle the registration provides an extra layer of insurance that the registration is done properly and completely, and that a thorough investigation has been conducted verifying that the trademark has not been previously registered by any other person or company.

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