Trade names

04 Mar 2022

What are trade names?

In the digital age, a good trade name is important for distinguishing companies. A creative trade name increases the online recognisability and findability of companies. Because the development of trade names is an expensive process, the need for protection is increasing.


Trade name law arises when the trade name is actually used in commerce. It arises automatically and there is no obligation to register. The use of the trade name in, for example, e-mail signatures, on a website, social media or on letterhead may be enough. As a holder of a trade name, you can take action against different types of infringements. For example if:

  • a competitor uses the same trade name;
  • the trade name is mentioned in someone else's domain name;
  • the competitor uses a trade name that is not or barely different from your trade name;
  • a party tries to benefit from your success;
  • the trade name or reputation of the company is damaged.

The basic principle is that an older trade name takes precedence over a new trade name.

Identical trade names

The use of an identical trade name is, in principle, prohibited. However, there are also exceptions to this rule. In this blog we explain when it is allowed to use the same trade name. However, for identical trade names within the hotel industry, please refer to this blog.

Please feel free to contact us. The lawyers at are specialised in trade name and domain name law. They can determine your legal position, answer your questions and assist you in proceedings.