The following is provided for informational purposes only. The information below may not apply to your specific situation so always consult an attorney. Use of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver business attorney.
What is a trade name and do I need one?
A trade name is any name, other than the legal name, under which a business operates. A trade name may be used by an individual, a corporation, or anyone else conducting business in Colorado. For instance, if John Doe does business under “The Best Painting Company That Could”, his trade name would be “The Best Painting Company That Could” unless he has registered a corporation in Colorado called “The Best Painting Company That Could.”
State and federal law governs trade names. Both common law and statutory law protect trade names in Colorado. Under federal law, a business or individual registers a trade name as a trademark. The Lanham Act usually protects trademarks (there are some additional laws that protect trademarks in regards to importation of goods and other areas).
When an individual or business uses a trade name in Colorado, even if not registered, the user may have a common law right to the name. Therefore, it is best to do some research before deciding on a trade name. I usually recommend doing an online search of the name. I also recommend doing a domain name search to see if the domain name is being used (an indication that a business may already be operating under that name). Although this is not a foolproof way to ensure that no one else is using the trade name, it is a good start and may protect you against claims of trade name infringement in the future. To make sure that you are protected to the best extent possible, it is best to document everything that you do to research the use of the name in case in the future someone accuses you of using his trade name.