Trade Name vs. Trademark


What’s a Trade Name? What’s a Trademark?  Far too often the line between the two is skewed.  Here’s some general information that should help clarify the differences between the two.

Simply put, a “trade name” is basically the name that you’ve used to identify your company.  It offers no legal protection or limitless rights for the use of that name, it is just the name.

A “trademark” is the process of registering the name with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to protect your brand name, product name, logo, catch phrase, etc. from someone else being able to infringe upon it.  In many cases, the name you trademark can be your trade name, but it does not necessarily have to be.  On the flip side, you may be able to give your company a trade name that is not available to be trademarked.

For more information on the trademark process go to

Often times we will find that the trade name will be available in one State and not another.  In which case, you may choose to operate under a “fictitious name”. This is known as a “DBA” or “doing business as” name. Typically, a DBA is set up locally where you plan to physically operate.  Keep in mind that a DBA does not afford the same legal protections as incorporating.

For further information on the DBA read Do I Need A DBA?

In many cases, before setting up the DBA, you may be required to register your company as a foreign entity in any State in which you plan to operate other than its State of Incorporation.  The foreign qualification process is often necessary if you plan to conduct business, hire employees, hold assets, or do banking in a State other than the one where the company was formed.

If you have questions about the difference between a trade name and a trademark, just give us a call at 800-345-2677 and we’ll be happy to help discuss it further.

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