Trademarks and trade names are completely different objects in nature, but are still often confused because of the similarity in terms of their form.

In Law on Intellectual property:


Trademark, a “sign” used to distinguish goods and services of different organizations and individuals. This “sign” can be (but is not limited to) letters, words, or pictures.

Trade name 

Trade name is the “name” of the organization or individual used in business activities to distinguish it from other business entities in the same area and business field.

Above definitions can be considered as the fundamental difference between expressions of trademarks and trade names. While trademarks are represented externally by “signs”, trade names are represented by “names”. However, since the “sign” of a trademark can be performed as letters, words can be confused with the “name” of the trade name.

Besides, according to Law on Intellectual Property, if a trademark is to be protected, it must be registered with the competent authority. Meanwhile, a trade name qualifying for statutory protection is “capable of distinguishing” from others in the same region and field of business, this trade name is automatically protected without registration.

Please refer to the following example to get a closer view

Company Limited produces and sells water bottle whose packaging shows the letter X stylized and blue (assuming in X’s business area and in the said business there are no other companies named X). According to the above analysis, it can be easily pointed out that “X Company Limited” is a trade name, which is implicitly protected. The stylized letter X in blue is a trademark of Company, to be protected the ownership of the trademark “X”, Company must conduct registration procedure for trademark “X”. It is only protected if it is granted a Certificate of Protection, also known as a Certificate of Trademark Registration, in accordance with Law on Intellectual Property.

Trademarks and trade names are subjects to industrial property rights, or more broadly, intellectual property rights. Accordingly, owning these subjects means holding intellectual property rights. However, each different subject has a different way of expressing rights, thus it is necessary to distinguish these two subjects to establish and effectively use the ownership.

The article is based on laws applicable at the time noted as above and may no longer be appropriate at the time the reader approaches this article as the applicable laws and the specific cases that the reader may wish to apply may have changed. Therefore, the article is for referencing only.


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