Business Names and Trademarks

Registration of a business name does not establish trademark rights. The mere fact that a party has obtained a business name registration does not mean that the same name is available as a trademark and that it does not infringe another’s trademark rights. To distinguish between the two consider the following definitions:

  • A business name (also referred to as a trade name, assumed name, fictitious name, or “doing business as”) is the name under which a company does business. A business name identifies and distinguishes an entity from other entities.
  • A trademark is any word, phrase, symbol, or design, or combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods or services of one party from those of others.

It is important to clear (i.e., check for potential conflicting names) the desired business name for use. A party may consider contacting an attorney for assistance. Registration of a business name through a Secretary of State’s office does not eliminate the risk of an objection by another party.

Trademarks may be established and protected by use, and further through registration at the state and/or federal level. Information about federal trademarks is available from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Information about state trademarks is typically available through the websites of Secretary of State offices.

Please click these hyperlinks for "Frequently Asked Questions" and a "Summary of Business Names and Trademarks."

All information provided by the International Trademark Association (INTA). For more information please visit their website.