A trademark is your business' identifier, your brand that distinguishes the source of goods or services in the marketplace. A trade name is the name your business uses for trading commercial products or services, it is the official name of your business. There is a distinction. But in many instances a business name begins as a trade name but then over time, its marketing begins to use its trade name to identify its products and services. The use of its trade name begins to overlap with its trademark use. This could develop into a problem should, for example, it be determined that the once trade name is now functioning as a trademark, which could potentially infringe on existing trademarks.
Whether a name is a trademark or a trade name depends on how your business is using the mark in commerce: Solely to identify your business (trade name) and/or as an identifier (trademark).
Here are a few points to consider:
• When establishing a trademark, the mark should appear in marketing materials - such as packaging, website pages, signage, and the like, in a way that sets the mark apart from the surrounding text. Your displayed trademark should be prominent.
• In my view if your mark is also your business name and for example is displayed with your business address, that should not be the only use of the mark on the material since that would likely lead to a conclusion that the mark is used merely as a corporate or trade name. I am not saying displaying the mark/ business name with your business address is fatal, just that it is important that you also establish your brand by displaying your mark on the materials without the address, as an identifier for your goods and services.
• Consider displaying the trademark in a different font, in a different size or color, in bold print, and strongly consider giving proper notation - if a trademark application is currently pending with the trademark office, using the letters TM (the mark is used in association with a product) or SM (the mark is used in association with a service), or if registered with the trademark office, the circle-R symbol.
• Also pay attention to how your mark evolves over time. You should use your mark in association with the goods or services identified on your trademark registration. If those goods or services change over time, or the mark changes over time, consideration should be given as to whether a new registration should be applied for.
About the Author:
Gary Price is an attorney registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. His legal practice includes all areas of Intellectual Property. Mr. Price also provides federal registration services under the business name Trademark Connect. If your business wants to register its brand, then go to http://www.TrademarkConnect360.com
and learn more about our registration services and our registration Guarantee.