A trade name identifies the undertaking as such and is thus the name under which the undertaking operates. This often coincides with the company name which is the official corporate name of a company.
A trade name is automatically protected, i.e. without registration, based on its use. Generally spoken, this protection extends to competing activities and is limited to the area where the trade name is used and known. However, as this area is not clearly defined in advance, you will not exactly know the territorial scope of protection of your rights.
Often the trade name also fulfills the function of a trademark: the services provided, or the products sold are often immediately linked to the name of the company.
Registering the trade name as a trademark offers important advantages in many cases:
- You can register a name for a range of products or services of your choice. So you can also claim products or services that you do not currently offer but may offer in the future. In this way, you can obtain broader protection than offered by a trade name (which always depends very concretely on your existing activities) and better protect your future.
- Territorially, you can apply for registrations and thus obtain protection in countries/territories where you are not currently active but might become so in the short or longer term. This way you can already secure your name in other countries and third parties can no longer appropriate your name in those other countries.
- Without trademark registration, third parties who do register the trademark may oppose the use of your tradenames; in those circumstances the protection granted by your trade name may sometimes be insufficient to defend you against a registered trademark, even if that trademark is of a more recent date.
- A trademark functions as a sign that refers to the origin and quality of your products or services. For example, if a competitor wants to try to profit from your reputation, they could use a name that is very similar to your name. This may give the impression that their services are of a similar quality or, even worse, that they are related to your company. A trademark registration makes it easier for you to oppose such practices.
- Trademark registration offers you greater certainty that you can continue to use your trademark safely in the countries in which you are or may become active.
- It strengthens your bargaining position with regard to potential customers, distributors, etc.
- In addition, a trademark registration is a proof of ownership that covers a clearly defined territory until proven otherwise.