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What is a Trademark? What is a Trade Name? What is a Corporate Name?

Trademarks and trade names are distinctive signs that are protected through titles awarded by the state. These grant the title holder exclusive right to their use in economic operations and to prevent others from using protected distinctive signs or other identical or similar signs applied to identical or similar products or services in Spain.

Trademarks are signs allowing business people to distinguish their products or services from the products or services of competitors.

Trade names are signs or denominations identifying a company in trade activities and serve to identify it, separate it and distinguish it from other companies undertaking identical or similar activities.

The corporate name is the name that identifies a legal entity in mercantile operations as the subject in legal relations and is therefore subject to rights and obligations.

The trade name does not have to be the same as the corporate name and the two may therefore be different. A natural person or legal entity can have various trade names for identifying business activities which belong to different economic activity sectors.

Therefore, a trouser manufacturer could register the name he uses for his manufacturing business activities as his trade name, which serves to distinguish the company from other business people. The corporate name is the name which must be used, for example, to sign contracts and register employees for the social security. The sign or name with which the trousers are commercialised will be the trademark of the product. All of these can be, at the business owner's choice, the same or different as required.

The corporate name is the equivalent of the "civil name" of a private individual and the trade name is the "artistic name" that the person may use to present to clients in the marketplace.

Trademarks and trade names are registered with the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office; corporate names are registered in the Central Mercantile Register.

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