Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the difference between a trademark and trade name?
A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device, or combination of any of the same, used to identify goods made or sold by a certain person or entity, and to distinguish those goods from goods made or sold by others. A trade name is a word, name, symbol or device, or combination of any of the same, used to identify a person’s business or occupation and to distinguish it from the business or occupation of others. Put simply, a trademark identifies goods, while a trade name identifies a business or occupation.
2. What is a service mark?
A service mark is a mark used to sell or advertise services and to distinguish the services of one service provider from another.
3. Can I register my trade name with the Secretary of State?
The Secretary of State does not specifically register trade names in a manner which reserves specific rights for the registrant or secures exclusive use of the trade name. The Secretary of State does register, and in fact requires the registration of, business names which are other than the true name of the business operator; these are fictitious names. Registering a fictitious name does not secure any exclusive use rights for the registrant.
4. Must my business name be registered as a corporation or a fictitious name before I can register a trademark?
No. Registration as a corporation or of a fictitious name is not required before registering a trademark.
5. If I do not have examples of my mark as of yet, may I still submit my application?
No. The mark must be in use before a trademark or service mark application can be submitted. Two working examples of the mark must be submitted with the application.