The difference between a Trade Name vs. Trademark

The difference between a Trade Name vs. Trademark

When starting a business, choosing the right name is critical to building brand recognition and establishing a strong reputation. However, it’s important to understand the differences between a trademark and a trade name to ensure that you’re taking the necessary steps to protect your brand.

What is Trademark vs. Trade Name?

Knowing the difference between a trademark and trade name can be confusing. A trade name is a name that a business uses to operate that is different from its legal name. It is also known as a fictitious name, assumed name, or “doing business as” (DBA) name. However, a trade name does not offer legal protection against other businesses using the same or similar name.

A trademark is usually a name, logo, or slogan that identifies and sets apart the product or service of one person or company from another. A trademark may also be referred to as a registered trademark if it has been legally registered with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. To register a trade name, you must register your business with the state in which the business will operate. To use the mark legally, you must register it with the USPTO to receive legal protection from infringement of your mark by another person or company.

Benefits of Trade Names

 A trade name can offer several benefits to businesses, including brand recognition, legal compliance, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.

  1. Brand recognition: A trade name can help to establish and promote a brand identity for a business. By choosing a unique and memorable name, a business can differentiate itself from its competitors and establish a strong reputation in the marketplace.
  2. Legal compliance: Many states require businesses to register a trade name in order to operate legally. A trade name is usually required if you aren’t going by the name you’ve registered for your business structure. Registering a trade name can ensure that a business is compliant with state and local laws and avoid potential legal issues down the road.
  3. Flexibility: A trade name can offer flexibility for businesses that operate under different names or brands. For example, a business may have several product lines or service offerings, each with its own trade name. This can allow the business to target different audiences and establish a unique brand identity for each product or service.
  4. Cost-effective: Registering a trade name is often less expensive than registering a trademark. While a trade name does not offer the same level of legal protection as a trademark, it can still help to establish and protect a brand identity for a business at a lower cost.

Benefits of a Registered Trademark

A registered trademark provides several benefits for a business that can help to protect and strengthen its brand. Here are some of the benefits of a registered trademark:

  1. Exclusive Rights: A registered trademark gives the owner the exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the goods or services covered by the registration. This means that no one else can use the same or similar mark in a way that is likely to cause confusion among consumers.
  2. Legal Protection: A registered trademark provides legal protection for the brand by giving the owner the ability to take legal action against anyone who infringes on the trademark rights. This can include suing for damages, seeking an injunction to stop the infringing activity, and requesting the destruction of infringing products.
  3. Brand Recognition: A registered trademark can help to establish and promote brand recognition for a business. Consumers are more likely to trust and purchase products or services from a business with a registered trademark, as it signifies a level of quality and authenticity.
  4. Deterrent to Competitors: A registered trademark can act as a deterrent to competitors who may be considering using a similar mark. The potential for legal action and the associated costs can discourage competitors from infringing on the trademark rights.
  5. Valuable Asset: A registered trademark is a valuable asset for a business and can be licensed or sold to other companies for a profit. It can also increase the overall value of the business and provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

All in all, trademarks are an invaluable resource that can give your business a competitive edge and help it to succeed in the long run.

What Could Happen When You Don’t Register a Trademark vs. a Trade Name?

Not registering a trademark or a trade name can leave a business vulnerable to several legal risks, including:

  1. Infringement by Competitors: Without a registered trademark, a business cannot prevent competitors from using the same or similar name or logo. This can lead to confusion among consumers and could damage the business’s reputation.
  2. Legal Disputes: A business that uses an unregistered trademark could be sued by another business that claims to have prior rights to the name or mark. This could result in costly legal fees and damages if the court finds in favor of the other business. Additionally, if you don’t register a trade name because you are not using the name registered with your business entity (LLC/corporation/partnership or your legal name), in FL it is a 2nd degree misdemeanor.
  3. Loss of Business Value: A business that does not register its trademark could lose value over time. If another business registers a similar or identical trademark, it could prevent the first business from expanding into new markets or attracting investors.
  4. Lack of Brand Protection: A business that does not register its trademark does not have the same level of legal protection against infringement or counterfeiting. This can lead to the loss of revenue and damage to the business’s reputation.
  5. Inability to Expand Globally: A business that does not register its trademark may not be able to expand into other countries where trademark registration is required for doing business. This could limit the growth potential of the business.

In summary, not registering a trademark or trade name can leave a business vulnerable to legal disputes, infringement by competitors, loss of business value, lack of brand protection, and the inability to expand globally. By registering a trademark or trade name, a business can protect its intellectual property, establish brand recognition, and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Do you need both trade name and trademark?

Whether a business needs a trade name and trademark depends on its goals and needs. A trade name is required by many states for legal and administrative purposes, and can help to establish a business’s brand identity. However, a trade name does not provide the same legal protection as a trademark.

A trademark provides exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with the goods or services covered by the registration, and offers legal protection against infringement by competitors. A registered trademark can also enhance the value of a business and provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Ultimately, a business should consider its goals, budget, and level of risk tolerance when deciding whether to register a trade name and trademark. While a trade name may be sufficient for some businesses, others may benefit from the additional legal protection and brand recognition provided by a registered trademark.


Work with Wilson Murphy Law to register your trademark for federal protection.

Trademark vs. LLC: Which to register first?

Trademark vs. LLC: Which to register first?

Welcome to the world of business where acronyms and legal terms can be overwhelming. If you’re starting a business, you’ve probably come across the terms LLC (Limited Liability Company) and trademark, but may not understand the difference between the two. It’s essential to understand the distinctions between LLC and trademark, as choosing the right option for your business can have a significant impact on your success. In this blog post, we’ll break down the basics of LLC and trademark, highlight their differences, and provide a clear understanding of when to choose one over the other. Whether you’re a seasoned business owner or just starting out, this post is for you. In this post you’ll learn about LLCs and trademarks, and how they can help you protect and grow your business.

Importance of understanding the difference between LLC and trademark

Understanding the difference between LLC vs. trademark is of utmost importance, especially for entrepreneurs who are starting a business. LLC stands for Limited Liability Company and it is a type of business structure that provides personal financial protection while allowing the company to conduct business as a separate entity. On the other hand, trademarks are symbols or words that identify a brand or product with a particular source. They help to distinguish products from competitors, protect against product counterfeiting, and add value to products. The main difference between an LLC and trademark is that LLCs provide protection from personal liability for debts incurred by the business, whereas trademarks protect the brand name associated with certain products. Having knowledge about these two types of legal entities can be beneficial in making more informed decisions when starting your own business and protecting your intellectual property rights.

What is an LLC (Limited Liability Company)?

An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability protection to its members. It is similar to a corporation in that it separates the owners from the business, but it has fewer formalities and regulations. An LLC is formed by filing articles of organization with the state and may be managed by its members or by appointed managers. An LLC offers its owners a degree of legal protection from personal liability for debts and other obligations related to the business; however, this protection does not extend to any criminal activities conducted through the LLC.

Additionally, an LLC provides pass-through taxation so that profits flow directly to each member, who then reports them on their individual tax returns. This structure makes it an attractive option for small business owners who want to limit their personal financial responsibility while also avoiding double taxes associated with corporations.

What are the benefits of owning an LLC?

The most important benefit of an LLC is the limited liability it provides its owners from debts or obligations incurred by the company. This means that any assets owned by the owners are protected in the event of lawsuits or other legal action against the company. 

Another benefit of an LLC is its flexible management structure. Unlike a corporation, which requires a board of directors and shareholders, an LLC can be managed by its members according to their agreement. This allows members to customize the management process to fit their needs. Additionally, LLCs have more favorable tax treatment than other business structures since they can generally choose how they want to be taxed. 

An LLC also has fewer formalities associated with it compared to corporations or S corporations, making it easier to set up and maintain. The operating agreement is simpler than corporate documents and there are no requirements for issuing shares or holding annual meetings like with other forms of business organization. Lastly, an LLC does not require disclosure of financial information outside of what’s required for tax purposes, offering added privacy for its owners compared to publicly traded companies.

The formation process of an LLC 

Forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company) is a great way to protect personal assets from business liabilities and to establish a legal entity for a business in the United States. The formation process of an LLC includes filing Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State or other designated agency in the state where the business will operate. This document must include information such as the name and address of the company, its purpose, any necessary registered agents, and other important details. Depending on the state, other documents are also required such as an Operating Agreement which outlines the management structure and ownership rules of the LLC. Once all documentation is filed and accepted by the appropriate agency, an LLC is officially established.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a legally-recognized symbol, phrase or word that identifies the source of goods or services. It is used to distinguish products and services from those of other manufacturers or providers. A trademark can be a name, logo, slogan, color combination or any other unique mark associated with a company’s goods and services. In order to be protected under trademark law, a mark must be distinctive and have an association with a particular product or service in the minds of consumers. 

The purpose of a trademark

Its purpose is to indicate that the goods or services associated with it are provided by a specific individual or organization, and to distinguish those goods and services from those provided by others. Trademarks also help consumers identify products they may be interested in purchasing, as well as providing assurance that the product has been created under certain quality standards. Additionally, trademarks allow companies to exert greater control over how their products are used and marketed, providing them with a form of legal protection for their intellectual property. 

Benefits of having a registered trademark

 Having a registered trademark has many benefits. First and foremost, it serves as a way to protect your brand from infringement by others. It grants you exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with your goods or services, ensuring that no one else can use it without your permission. Additionally, it provides you with legal recourse if someone does try to infringe on your rights. Furthermore, having a registered trademark gives you credibility and recognition in the marketplace, as customers will know they are buying authentic products from you and not an imposter. Finally, having a registered trademark allows you to take advantage of certain tax benefits, as well as simplifying the process of registering for other intellectual property protections such as patents and copyrights. All in all, having a registered trademark is an invaluable asset for any business.

Federal trademark registration process 

The trademark registration process is a complex procedure that requires careful consideration and planning. First, applicants must conduct a thorough search to ensure that their proposed trademark is available for use, as it cannot be registered if it is already in use by another company. After the search has been conducted, a trademark application must be filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This application must include all the necessary information, such as the name of the applicant and the proposed mark itself and what services or goods you’re selling with your trademark. Once the application has been submitted, it will undergo a series of evaluations by government examiners to ensure that it meets all legal requirements. If successful, official registration will be granted and the trademark owner can then enjoy exclusive rights to use the mark throughout its chosen market.

Differences between LLC and trademark

Legal Protection

Legal protection is one of the key differences between an LLC and a trademark. An LLC, or limited liability company, provides its owners with personal legal protection from any debts or financial obligations incurred by the business. An LLC protects your assets from being mixed up any legal issues from the business. 

On the other hand, a trademark is a form of intellectual property that helps protect the owner’s brand identity and reputation. A trademark can be used to prevent competitors from using similar logos, designs, or words associated with their product or service. It also prevents confusion among customers who may think that two different brands are related because of similarities in their branding. While both provide important protections for businesses, an LLC offers more comprehensive legal protection than a trademark does.

Business structure 

Another difference between an LLC and trademark is that an LLC is a business entity whereas a trademark is not. An LLC can own trademarks as part of its assets, however; and certain benefits associated with having an LLC may be extended to the trademark. Ultimately, both an LLC and a trademark can help protect businesses from legal claims; however, they serve different purposes in terms of business structure and protection of intellectual property rights.


There are a few things that you must consider when it comes to the cost of filing for an LLC and federal trademark. First, cost depends on whether or not you hire an attorney to handle this for you. If you plan on hiring an attorney, the costs can be in the thousands. 

Filing fees for an LLC depends on your state. In FL, the fee is $125 plus annual renewal fees. In New York, it’s $200.

Filing fees for a trademark depends on how many trademarks you’re filing for and how many classes you’re filing the trademark under ($250-$350/class). Also, there are additional fees if you file the application on an intent to use basis ($100/class when you file the statement of use).

Should I get a trademark or LLC first?

When deciding whether to get a trademark or LLC first, it is important to consider the purpose of each. A trademark will protect your brand identity and help you legally own any words, names, symbols, or logos used in association with your business. An LLC on the other hand is a type of legal structure which helps protect personal assets and limit liability. It also separates your personal finances from those of the business. Ultimately, it depends on what type of business you are starting and how much risk you are willing to take. If you need to protect valuable intellectual property then a trademark can be obtained first. However, if you are in an industry that is high risk and has the potential for litigation, then an LLC can be obtained first.

Conclusion on the difference between an LLC vs Trademark

The difference between LLC and trademark is crucial for any business owner to understand. An LLC offers legal protection for the owners and limits their liability, while a trademark protects a business’s brand and reputation. Deciding between the two depends on the specific needs and goals of your business. If you’re looking for a formal business structure and liability protection, an LLC may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you’re focused on protecting your brand and preventing others from using your name or logo, a trademark may be the way to go. It’s essential to carefully consider your options and seek advice from legal and financial experts before making a final decision. With the right combination of LLC and trademark, you can protect your business and set it up for success.

Work with Wilson Murphy Law to register your trademark for federal protection.