A Trademark vs a Tradename: Do You Need Both?

table with pink calendar, stapler, laptop, and and clipboard that reads "Your Brand"

Much like the time, careful consideration, love, and effort you put into naming new humans you have created or new furry four-legged companions you adopt, naming a business is no small feat. This is your baby, and you want that special name that speaks to what your business will be.

Aside from the actual running of the business, every entrepreneur will want and need to protect the ability to sell their product or service under their carefully selected name. This will ensure that other opportunistic entrepreneurs can’t operate and take business away from you using the same name.

So, What is a Trademark?

A Trademark, when properly registered through a trademark attorney, protects any word, phrase, design or combination of these elements to help identify your service or product. Think the Nike Swoosh, or the FedEx name and logo design with the arrow seen between the E and the X, or even the iconic Tiffany Blue color. All protected legally from anyone in those industries using anything close to it to sell a similar product or service.

What is a Registered Trademark?

A Registered Trademark allows you legal benefits against infringement from others attempting to steal business away from you and covers you throughout the entire United States. The Registered Trademark protects your customers from purchasing an inferior product or service that looks similar but is not and protects you from a tarnished reputation from those shady entrepreneurs trying to make money off of your success, ingenuity and hard work.

An unregistered trademark covers you only regionally and depending on the state for limited uses. National recognition and protection of your brand, business name, logo, or design requires a properly registered trademark administered by an experienced attorney specializing in trademark law.

Do You Need to Register Your Business Name?

Fun fact: the state of Georgia does not require you register your name to conduct business as long as you have the proper tax regulations set up. (Note: This is not the same as running your business as an LLC which the state DOES require you register and file).

You do need to register a business name if you want to conduct business under a name that is not your own. So, you as John Q. Public could operate any business under that name if you have your taxes set up correctly without formally registering your business. However, if you want to sell the most delicious quiche in the southeast under “John Q’s Crazy Good Quiches” you must register your business name with the state and renew it every year.

Registering your name with the state allows you show who was using the name for your particular product or service first and allows a legal precedent to be set if needed to prove you were operating under this name for this product or service first.