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What is the difference between a trademark and a trade name

A trademark is usually defined as a legally protected mark by which a participant on the market, marks his products and/or services, so that consumers can distinguish them from the same or similar products and/or services of another participant on the market. A trademark is essentially a symbol, and its basic value is vested in its power of association.
How a mark becomes a trademark?

Two conditions have to be fulfilled in order for a mark to become a trademark: (1) that it is sensually tangible and (2) that it is registered before the Intellectual Property Office.

Every mark that can be sensed is considered tangible, so we have traditional marks that consist of words, slogans, numbers, devices or a combination of all of them and non-traditional marks that consist of colour, odour, taste, tones, holograms, hashtags. etc.

In order for a mark to get the status of a trademark, it has to be registered before the Intellectual Property Office. Its duration is limited to a period of 10 years from the filing date and can be extended indefinitely many times or as long as there is an interest of its owner to use it on the market.

Through registration of a trademark, its owner acquires the exclusive right to use the protected mark to designate the products and/or services to which the trademark refers in a certain territory. In other words, the trademark owner has a monopoly over it, including the possibility to prohibit any third party from unauthorized use of the same.

On the other hand, the trade name of the company is the one chosen by its owner and registered before the Business Registers Agency. As a rule, the Business Registers Agency does not conduct ex officio searched in trademark registers and registers the trade name of the company as it has been applied for only if there is no identical, already registered trade name or trade name with less than 3 different characters and related to the same activity.

Can a trade name be used to mark products and services?

It often happens in practice that the owner of a company decides to use his trade name to mark products or services on the market, considering that he has all the rights to use the same, since he is the owner of that trade name and therefore has the right to use it to mark products or service. Sometimes it turns out that the trade name is already protected by the trademark and the trademark owner asks the owner of that company to stop the unauthorized use of his trademark on the market for the same or similar products or services.

In such situations, legislation and practice are of the opinion that the trademark owner may not prohibit another person to put his products or services on the market under the same or a similar mark, if that mark represents his trade name acquired in a conscientious manner before the register date of trademark priority. This further means that if the owner of a company has registered his trade name in an unscrupulous manner, i.e. after the registered trademark priority date, he will not have the right to freely continue to use his trade name on the market.

Therefore, in order to avoid unforeseen situations, before registering your trade name or starting to use a mark, we always advise to check the relevant trademark registers and determine whether an identical or similar trademark has already been applied for or registered for identical or similar products or services that can lead to confusion on the market.

If you need assistance in verifying or registering a trade name and/or trademark in any jurisdiction, feel free to contact us at