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Differences Between Business Names and Trademarks

Jim Ruttler, Patent Attorney

Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 by Jim Ruttler

A trademark is any name, phrase, logo, or other device that is used to identify the source of a good or service and distinguish that good or service from others in the marketplace. With goods, trademarks must be displayed on the good itself or associated product packaging. With services, trademarks must be displayed within advertisements for the services such as on brochures, signs, or displays. Common trademarks include Nike, the Starbuck’s logo, and Perrier’s bottle shape. A business name is the name of the legal entity under which a business is conducted. A business name is not a trademark unless it is used as a source identifier for a good or service as discussed above. Further, a given business entity can own a number of different trademarks for various goods and services.

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