Is trade name the same as brand name? A trade name is used in the course of business that doesn't include the full legal name of the business. On the other hand, a brand name is a name given by an organization to a particular product or service.

What Is the Difference Between a Brand Name & a Trade Mark?: Introduction

Trademarks and brand names can be extremely valuable assets for a business. Often times, a trademark or a brand name becomes just as important as the product or service that the business provides. For example, Kleenex is often used to describe facial tissue. Brand names and trademarks are so important that most companies work hard to protect them from other businesses that are trying to misrepresent or copy them.

Definitions

Brand names will usually identify a specific company or product. A brand name is important because it can evoke positive emotions or images with consumers. Trademarks help to protect a company's brand name. A trademark can be a trade name or registered brand. It will identify the company, their services, or products through a combination of a:

  • Slogan
  • Name
  • Logo
  • Sounds
  • Colors

For example, the Reebok Pump is a registered trademark.

Purpose

The ultimate goal of a brand name is to:

  1. Bring awareness to the consumer
  2. Evoke a delightful response from the consumer

For example, many consumers prefer to purchase a brand name product rather than a generic one because of the perceived value. Upon registering a trademark, the company is able to legally protect their brand name. If any individual or other business attempts to use the brand, or copy it without permission, they may be held financially liable.

Eligibility for Use

Businesses that decide not to trademark a brand name, may have their brand name used by others without their permission. It's important to register your brand name in your home state so that it's protected at the local, city, and state levels. Trademarked names can only be used by others in "fair use" circumstances. This means that other businesses may use the trademark as long as the ownership of the brand, or name, is not confusing.

Limited liability companies, partnerships, or corporations should register at the state level. Filing a "doing business as" (DBA) statement will help protect the name of your business. This is usually completed at the local level.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is the governmental agency responsible for issuing trademarks. You'll need to submit:

  • Your brand name
  • An application
  • Pay the fee

The process can be lengthy and hiring an intellectual property lawyer is highly recommended.

Length of Use

Currently there are no time impediments on the use of a brand name, excluding any constraints that may be monitored at the local level. For example, if your brand and business name are the same and you forget to maintain your business name with state, your business name will become available for someone else to use.

Trademarks are protected for 10 years. They are allowed to be renewed during the fifth and sixth year after registration, and anytime during the year before expiring by filing an Affidavit of Use. There is a six month grace period following the end of the sixth or 10th year, in which the registration for the trademark may be maintained for a fee.

Trade Name vs Trade Mark

The identity of a business is known as its trade name. In order for you to run your business, a trade name will need to be registered with the appropriate governmental body. Essentially, when a business registers their trade name as a corporation or LLP, they are authorizing their business to run under the trade name.

The registration of a trade name does not monopolize that particular name, nor does it mean businesses are allowed to file trademark infringement cases against it. In most states, competitor companies are even allowed to have similar trade names.
On the other hand, when a business registers a trademark the company is protected under trade mark law and is able to legally enforce the unauthorized use of their trademark. As previously mentioned, your trade name is not protected by trademark law when it's registered. Therefore, in order to protect it, you'll need to register your trade name under the trademark law.

If you need help determining if a trade name is the same as a brand name, you can post your job on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.