Trademarks vs. Trade Names

One of the common misconceptions about trademarks is that once you incorporate under a certain name, that name is well protected. Watch the video below to discover if trademarks and trade names are one and the same.

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TRANSCRIPT

What is the difference between trademarks and trade names, or company names?

Trade names, or company names, are designed to identify the company, the business. They are designed to identify YOU. Whereas trademarks are designed to identify a product or a service. And there is a big, big difference.

So a trade name, or a company name, protects the name of the company no matter what the company does, and in most countries if you register a company name, that business can do anything. So if you are a software company, it does not mean that you can’t sell balloons, or pens, or refrigerators, or offer some services under that same legal name.

However, it is very different from trademarks where trademarks are registered in association with particular products and services. Remember, the function of a trademark is to let the market tell your products and services apart from identical products and services or similar products and services of everyone else.

It does not mean that trademarks are designed to protect the company name. It does not mean that you can’t protect a company name through a trademark. But it has to be a name that the company is using AS their trademark. So for example, Microsoft, they get the protection for their company name not because it is their company name, but because that’s part of the product name Microsoft Windows, Microsoft this. Microsoft that. And also because they are providing services under that name—and that’s what trademarks protect.

So trade names, or company names, there is nothing that prevents you from having one name for a company and completely different product names or service names that you can get as a trademark.

So when you incorporate your business, just because you’re able to register your company where a particular name, it does not mean that you now have a trademark. It doesn’t mean that the name is protected. It doesn’t mean that you’re done.

These are two completely separate areas of government who look at it. The Trademarks Office is separate from the Corporate Office. So make sure that if your names, brand names, if they’re valuable to you, that you register them as a trademark and don’t rely solely on the registration of your company name.


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Disclaimer: Please note that this post and this video are not and are not intended as legal advice. Your situation may be different from the facts assumed in this post or video. Your reading this post or watching this video does not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and Trademark Factory International Inc., and you should not rely on this post or this video as the only source of information to make important decisions about your intellectual property.

See our answers to other frequently asked questions about trademarks or leave your comments below!


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