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If I register a business name do I need to register a trademark?

Business names and trademarks serve quite different purposes:

  • Registering a business name is a legal obligation, if you choose to identify your business with a name that is different to the name of the legal entity that owns the business.
  • Registering a trademark is a choice you make as part of a branding strategy for your products and services.

You could use your business name as an unregistered trademark, but that would not give you the benefits of a registered trademark.

The differences between a business name and a trademark are described below:

QuestionRegistered business nameRegistered trademark
Can I use it to identify my business?YesNo. You need a registered business name
Can I use it to identify products and services I sell?As an unregistered trademark yes, but without the benefits of a registered trademarkYes
Can I own it, so that it is my property?NoYes
Can I stop someone registering a similar name or mark?NoYes
If I have a registered business name can I stop someone who has registered an identical trademark?NoNot applicable
Do I have a legal obligation to register?Yes, if you identify your business with a name other than the business's legal nameNo. You may choose to register a trademark as part of a branding strategy