Taylor Legal Blog

What's the Difference Between a Trade Name and a Trademark? [VIDEO]

Posted by Katherine L. Taylor, Attorney and CPA, Chief Problem SolverMar 16, 20230 Comments

{2 minutes to read}  In an earlier article, I explained how to obtain a trade name for your business, but I promised to do another article in which I described the difference between a trade name and a trademark

A trade name is a fictitious name or a doing-business-as name that either a company or person files with their state corporation department to show that a person or another entity is actually doing business under a name different from that registered with the state. The purpose is that somebody doing business with the trade name knows precisely with whom they are doing business. So, let me give you an example:

Jess owns a company called Jess's Plumbing Enterprises LLC, but Jess doesn't want to use that long corporate or filed name on her plumbing truck. To resolve the problem, she will register a trade name called Jess's Plumbing and can then use just those words instead of the long corporate name on her truck. Because she registered that trade name representing her LLC with the state, anyone who decides they have a claim against Jess's Plumbing will know that behind Jess's Plumbing is the LLC and not just Jess personally.

So, then what's a trademark, and what is the difference between it and a trade name?

A trademark is intellectual property. It's typically a brand name, a logo, a design, or even a phrase that a company uses to market itself. As intellectual property, it's owned by the person who either starts using the trademark or registers the trademark. The purpose of trademark registration is to protect that intellectual property so that nobody else can use it in their own marketing. 

As you can see, there's a huge difference between a trade name and a trademark, even though they sound very similar. I've counseled many businesses on how to go about registering a trade name and whether or not to pursue registering a trademark. If you have questions, please give me a call. 


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