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What’s the difference between a trade name and a trademark ?

A trade name is a name under which you run a business. It distinguishes your company from other companies operating in the area in which the trade name is known. By contrast, a trademark distinguishes your products/services from those of your competitors and can be amongst others a name, a logo, or a combination of both, under which you sell products and provide services.

A trade name does not grant you a monopoly on that name, only a trademark will give you a monopoly on the use of that trademark in relation to specific products and services.

A trade name only applies in the region and for the sector where the trade name is used and known. This means that trade name protection is determined by how well the trade name is known. By contrast, a trademark gets you protection for the whole territory in which it is registered.

Trademarks thus have a much wider scope of protection. But this doesn’t mean a trade name is worthless, in some cases it can stop a future trademark in a specific region. A trademark always requires registration to be valid, whereas a trade name only requires a continuous use of that name.

There are strict requirements about what signs can be used in a trademark. A trademark cannot be descriptive, for example, whereas this condition does not apply for trade names. A trade name does not provide companies with trademark rights. Note that if your trade name meets formal requirements, it can be registered as a trademark, so your trademark and your trade name can be identical.

For more information about trademarks click here.