Trade Name

(redirected from trade names)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia.

Trade Name

Names or designations used by companies to identify themselves and distinguish their businesses from others in the same field.

Trade names are used by profit and non-profit entities, political and religious organizations, industry and agriculture, manufacturers and producers, wholesalers and retailers, sole proprietorships and joint ventures, partnerships and corporations, and a host of other business associations. A trade name may be the actual name of a given business or an assumed name under which a business operates and holds itself out to the public.

Trade name regulation derives from the Common Law of Unfair Competition. The common law distinguishes between Trademarks and trade names. Trademarks consist of symbols, logos, and other devices that are affixed to goods to signify their authenticity to the public. The common law of trade names encompasses a broader class of Intellectual Property interests, including Trade Dress and service marks. Trade dress is used by competitors to distinguish their products by visual appearance, including size, shape, and color, while service marks are used by competitors to distinguish their services from each other. Gradually, the law of trade dress and service marks has evolved into separate causes of action, independent from the law of trade name infringement.

To maintain a Cause of Action for trade name infringement, a plaintiff must establish that it owned the right to operate its business under a certain name and that the defendant violated this right by use of a deceptively similar name. The right to use a particular trade name ordinarily is established by priority of adoption. In states that require registration of trade names, a business may acquire the rights to a trade name by being the first to file for protection with the appropriate governmental office, usually the Secretary of State. In states that do not require registration, a business may acquire the rights to a trade name through public use, which means that the law will afford protection only if it can be demonstrated that a business and its trade name have become inseparable in the public's mind. Under federal law businesses may acquire the rights to a trade name only through regular and continued public use of an individual name. Federal law will not protect trade names that are used sporadically or irregularly.

Once a business has established the right to use a particular trade name, it must then prove that the defendant fraudulently attempted to pass itself off as the plaintiff through use of a deceptively similar name. Not every trade name that resembles an existing one will give rise to liability for infringement. The law will not forbid two unrelated businesses from using the same trade name so long as their coexistence creates no substantial risk of confusion among the public. For instance, two businesses may call themselves "Triple Play" if one business is a video store and the other is a sports bar and grill. By the same token, the law permits businesses in different geographic markets to use identical trade names, unless the good will and reputation of an existing business extend into the market where a new business has opened.

A greater degree of protection is afforded to fanciful trade names than to names in common use. Generic words that are widely used to describe any number of businesses in the same field may not be appropriated by a single competitor. For example, a professional partnership of attorneys would receive no trade name protection for emblazoning the name "law office" across its front doors. Such a name would be considered generic in nature, telling consumers nothing unique or unusual about that particular business. The same partnership would receive full protection for a name that identifies the firm by the individual names of each partner in the office.

Trade name regulation serves four purposes. First, the law seeks to protect the economic, intellectual, and creative investments made by businesses in distinguishing their trades. Second, the law seeks to preserve the good will and reputation that are often associated with a particular trade name. Third, the law seeks to promote clarity and stability in the marketplace by encouraging consumers to rely on a merchant's trade name when evaluating the quality of its merchandise. Fourth, the law seeks to increase competition by requiring businesses to associate their own trade names with the value and quality of their goods and services.

Both state and federal laws provide protection against trade name infringement. At the federal level, trade names are regulated by the Lanham Trademark Act (15 U.S.C. § 1051 et seq.). At the state level, trade names are regulated by analogous intellectual property statutes and various common-law doctrines. In general, the law of trade name infringement attempts to protect consumers from deceptive trade practices. The law does not treat consumers as unwitting dupes and may require them to make reasonable distinctions between competitors under appropriate circumstances. When consumers have been deceived by use of a deceptively similar trade name, an injured business may avail itself of two remedies for infringement: injunctive relief (a court order restraining one party from infringing on another's trade name) and money damages (compensation for any losses suffered by the injured business).

Cross-references

Lanham Act.

trade name

n. a name of a business or one of its products which, by use of the name and public reputation, identifies the product as that of the business. A trade name belongs to the first business to use it, and the identification and reputation give it value and the right to protect the trade name against its use by others. Example: Sheaffer's is clearly identified as a fountain pen manufactured by the Sheaffer Company, and no one else can produce pens with that name. However, a motorcycle with the name Sheaffer would not be an infringement since the product is different. (See: trademark)

See: brand
References in periodicals archive ?
The trade name BARCLAYS REAL ESTATE in Dubai vs the trademark BARCLAYS BANK
ARTICLE (6): Priority for registering trade names, in the instance of application by more than one person requesting the registering of the same name, shall be decided according to their precedence in submitting the application.
Since the firm's identity is a major investment, it is essential to check the governing rules of professional conduct when going forward with a name change or advancing a trade name or nickname.
The CD-ROM contains 25,000 chemicals and 150,000 synonyms with full text search and dynamic indexes for locating chemicals by generic name, synonym, trade name, CAS number, SMILES formula, and chemical formula.
The IRS viewed it as "disingenuous" for anyone to assert that all trademarks and trade names are alike.
The national court has to consider not only the extent to which the public uses the trade name to link the products to the mark, but also the extent to which the third party should have been aware of it.
The value of a trade name rests on its ability to motivate a consumer to purchase a particular product and, in this way, generate sales.
The Trade Names Booking system's wide range of features and functions includes trade name querying, and issuance through e-services, Ajman DED customer service center or Tasheel service centers located in Ajman.
Document_Type - Trade Literature - Record_Type - Trade Name Record
197-2(e)((3)(ii)(A) for certain trademarks or trade names included in computer software or in an interest in a film, sound recording, video tape, book, or similar property.
Companies with expenditures in connection with trademarks and trade names must determine how to treat such costs in light of Sec.