What’s in a Name?

April 12, 2017

According to Shakespeare, a per-son’s importance is not because of their name, but in the world of trade marks, ‘name’ is everything. When designing your mark, you must choose something that can differentiate your goods or services from your competition. Your mark, like your name, is your identifier. It acts as a source of origin for consumers. So, what rights exist under trade mark law for protecting company or personal names?

Trade Marks vs. Company Names

A trade mark and a business name serve different purposes and protect your business in different ways.

Trade marks are property, and they have value. And, because they are property, they can be licensed or assigned to others. Similar to own-ing a home, for example, a trade mark owner has the exclusive rights to permit the use of his/her trade mark by others.

A company or business name, how-ever, is simply a name used to identify your business. It does not give you exclusive rights to that name. If another company uses your business name for its business, you don’t have any rights to stop it. The business name alone does not pro-vide you with unlimited rights to use that name.

Registering your company or business name does not automatically protect your name as a trade mark. It also doesn’t guarantee that the name is registrable as a trade mark. For example, your company may be registered as “John Jay’s Painting Limited”. However, this would be considered descriptive and, there-fore, not registrable as a trade mark. Many companies often register a shortened version of their name as a trade mark or have an entirely separate trade mark from their company name, to avoid having their application refused.

Trade Marks vs Personal Names

Many celebrities apply to have their name trade marked, and for good reason. You can register your personal name as a trade mark if your name is directly associated with the goods or services you provide.

This means that your name has taken on a secondary meaning, because of how it is used. But keep in mind that common surnames – such as Ebanks, Wang, Smith, or Garcia – may be difficult to register. If your name has become widely known and associated with specific goods or services, you may be able to register as a trade mark. Some examples of personal names used as trade marks are:



Whatever ‘name’ you choose, al-ways remember that a trade mark serves as an indicator of origin to distinguish your goods or services from that of your competitors as you get creating, Cayman!

Published in  www.caymaniantimes.ky