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  • Dave Sterrett

Tradename vs. Trademark

We get asked to explain the difference between these concepts a lot so we thought we put out a blog post about them. Although these terms sound similar they have very different meanings. A "tradename" is a pseudonym allowing a company to conduct business under a different name than its legal name. It is traditionally known as "doing business as" or d/b/a name. Many municipalities require a business to register with the municipality and register a tradename. Other than the right to use the name it is important to note that registering a "tradename" does not give someone any ability to stop others from using that name or term. You cannot protect your brand by registering "tradename" with a municipality or state. That is where "trademark comes in.

A "trademark" is a symbol or word (or combination of the two), which identifies products or services. You can register a trademark at the state, federal, or international level (we'll discuss that in a later post). Registration at the state or federal level gives you the exclusive right to use that "trademark" in the relevant jurisdiction for the goods or services that your registration covers. That means you can enforce your exclusive right to use that trademark in court against someone else using your trademark. A tradename cannot be enforced in court. The best way to protect your brand is to register your trademark.

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