Trade Names vs. Trademarks

The term ”trade name” means any name used by a person to identify his or her business or vocation. ”Trade name” refers mainly to the corporate, partnership or other name of a business. The business may, in turn, market goods or services under one or more trademarks or service marks.

Examples of Trade Names



  • ”General Motors Corporation” is used as the trade name of the business that sells products under the trademark CADILLAC.

  • “Kraft Foods, Inc.” is used as the trade name of the business that markets JELL-O(r) desserts and Kool Bursts(r) juice drinks.

Selling, Assigning or Terminating a Trade Name


Trade names can be sold or assigned to another company. When a company is dissolved, terminated, or withdrawn, the trade names owned by that company are terminated.


Trade Name Registration


There is no provision under federal trademark law (the Lanham Act) for federal registration of trade names, but they may be registered in some states and may be registered as trademarks if they are used as trademarks. If registered by a stated, is hould be registered in the state where the person or company is based. The law sets no limits on the number of trade names which may be registered by one person or company.

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