Trademark and Trade name, both the terms may sound similar to you but there is difference between both under the law and provides different protection provisions. As we know that trademarks are associated with protection of brand, logo, words etc but thinking that it is same as the business name or trade name is not correct.  

Sometimes it is wrongly interpreted that having trade name registration provides complete legal protection to all trade related aspects of the company. So let us understand the thin line of difference between the two through comparison chart.

BasisTrade /Business NameTrademark
MeaningIn simple terms, it is the name or a way which helps to identify a business, an entity or an individual.It offers legal protection for a symbol, logo, slogan, word, design or other element which relates to the products or services of business.
ImportanceIt is important as it connects your company to members of the public.It is important as it protects the intellectual property of the business.
RegistrationIt is the official business registration name of company, LLP, partnership or sole proprietorship etc.It is establishes ownership of the mark as a unique and protected element of your business.
IdentityThe registration of trade name establishes a separate legal entity which allows a company to enter into contracts, advertise, to get into partnership and other business activities.The registration of trademark gives the brand identity so that no other company can use the mark,
Legal RightsRegistration of trade name gives protection according to the Companies Act 2013 and LLP Act, 2008. You have limited legal rights to sue for the trade name.It gives you several legal rights at national level and when trademark is approved person is not allowed to use or copy mark, profit distribution for the approved mark and other decisions are made by registered trademark owner.
RestrictionRegistration of trade name does not restrict others from using the same name in other states.Registration of trademark restricts to use the same mark, symbol, logo, and design etc to be used by others irrespective of the areas.

Let’s study some examples of TRADEMARK AND TRADE NAME:

  • Starbucks vs. Sardar Baksh, 2018: In this case Starbucks Corporation filed a suit before Delhi High Court alleging that the Sardarbuksh name and logo infringed Starbucks trademark and copyrights. In the final order it is held that Sardarbuksh will have to change its name to Sardar Ji Baksh and stop using the logo and refrained from using green color in the logo.
  • Another example is if you opened a toy shop named Childy Toy Shop and someone else filed a registration for Childi Toy Shop, the second registration must be invalid. Although the spellings are different but similarity causes confusion and many states are trying to prevent this for benefit of consumers.

Important Points: Trade name Vs. Trademark

  • Filing trade name does not guarantee the approval associated with trademark registration and legal rights.
  • The first step for any business is to register trade name to start the business to ensure proper tax status and legal rights to operate in a state. A business cannot be operated without registration of it’s name.
  • If you want to protect your business name along with its marks then you will need to register for the trade mark application.
  • For the unregistered mark, TM and SM are used. TM is used by business selling products or goods and SM is for service providers.
  • If other company registers for a trademark of the business name before you file an application, then you could lose the opportunity to trademark it. And it will be an infringement of trademark registered so you can no longer produce products with the name which is registered for the trademark.
  • Trade name occurs at the state level and trademark operates at the national level.

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