Taylor Legal Blog

What is the Difference Between a Trade Name and a Trademark? (VIDEO)

Posted by Katherine L. Taylor, Attorney and CPA, Chief Problem SolverDec 02, 20220 Comments

{3 minutes to read}  Are you a business owner wondering whether or not you should register a trade name or a trademark for your business? And are you also wondering what the difference is? I'm Katherine Taylor, the lawyer for business owners, and I'm going to explain for you, very briefly, the difference between a trade name — a registered state trade name — and a trademark.

State Registered Trade Name 

When a company or business decides it's going to do business in a name other than the actual registered state name, it can register a trade name either in the state in which the business is already registered, or in states in which it conducts business. This type of registration is for the purpose of notifying the public that the trade name with which they are doing business is actually a real person or corporation. So, let me give you an example of that.

The legal name of the company that I own is "Katherine L. Taylor, P. A." It's not a very catchy moniker, and so several years ago I decided to start using the trade name – Taylor Legal. In order to do that, I legally registered a trade name with the Maryland corporation's department, which states that the particular trade name is owned by my corporation. 

So, if somebody is doing business with Taylor Legal — whether on my website, my business cards, etc. there is formal, legal notice that the entity or the person they're actually doing business with is the owner of the trade name.

So How Does That Differ From a Trademark? 

A trademark is actually intellectual property. A trademark can be nationally registered and gives the owner/person who registered the trademark the right to use that name or mark throughout the entire country. The trademark is typically applied to products and services, and doesn't necessarily identify the company itself, nor is it even necessarily part of the company's name or even part of their trade name. For instance, if the company has trademarked a particular product or service, that trademark is intellectual property owned by the person that has registered it. The way to register the trademark is with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). When the trademark is registered, the owner of the mark will have the rights to use it throughout the country. 

So, in summary, a trade name is state-registered permission to do business using a different name. A trademark is a nationally registered mark that gives the person certain intellectual property rights to that name. 

Frankly, the difference is very confusing, and I myself get confused sometimes when I'm speaking about it. I recently assisted a client through the complex web of questions and ended up actually referring the trademark part to an intellectual property attorney. 

www.taylorlegal.com is our website. If you have any further questions about trade names and trademarks, please contact us. 


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