What is a Tradename?
A Tradename, also known as a Business name, is the designation under which an individual or company conducts its business activities, distinct from the legal entity’s registered name. Businesses employ Tradenames for promotional, marketing, and sales purposes, lacking any specific design or distinctive features. The choice of a Tradename may stem from practical considerations, such as ease of use or the inability to register a preferred name due to similarities with an existing registered Tradename.
A company may adopt various Tradenames, each serving a specific purpose. It is advisable for a Tradename to possess distinctiveness, allowing the company to utilise it in various aspects like letterheads and websites.
In Cyprus, the regulation of Tradenames falls under the Partnerships and Business Names Law (Cap.116).
Differentiating Trade Names from Registered Legal Entities
Crucially, a Trade name does not represent a separate legal entity. The distinction between Trade names and legal entities is vital, as the public may not always recognise the legal entity responsible for any legal obligations. In contractual agreements and legal proceedings, the legal entity’s name associated with the Trade name is consistently used.
Distinguishing Trade Names from Trademarks
While Trademarks refer to registered brands, Trade names denote the trading names of companies. Although similarities may exist, it is crucial not to confuse the two. Trademarks predominantly involve logos displayed on products or services, fostering brand loyalty among consumers, while Trade names are primarily administrative, used for tasks like filing corporate tax returns.
Clear differentiation between Trade names and Trademarks is essential to avoid legal conflicts. If a Trade name closely resembles a Trademark from another company, the proprietor may face legal action.
Confusion in Usage
Similar to Trademarks, Trade names used within a specific sector must be unique to avoid confusion with competitors. If companies operate in different sectors or countries, the risk of confusion is minimal. This emphasises the protection of a Trade name in the locations where the company operates or intends to trade.
Registration of Trade Names
While optional, a Trade name can be registered to prevent confusion with Trademarks. Registration involves a straightforward process, with a focus on avoiding misrepresentation. Notably, Trade names must be registered separately from a company’s Trademarks. It’s crucial to understand that a Trade name, unlike a Trademark, does not confer intellectual property rights to the proprietor.
Companies often enlist the services of a Trademark lawyer to ensure that integrating the Trade name into their Trademark doesn’t infringe on existing Trademarks. Checking for prior Trademark registrations is a standard practice before proceeding.
It’s essential to note that Trademarks take precedence over Trade names, and to secure exclusive rights over a Trade name, a company must register it as a Trademark under Trademarks Law (Cap.268).
Procedure for Registering Trade Names in Cyprus
In Cyprus, legal practitioners recommend selecting three Trade names. An application for name approval is submitted to the Registrar of Companies for approval, with refusals based on factors such as similarity to existing names, potential deception, offensiveness, or suggestions of government affiliation. Following name approval, the proprietor must file the appropriate form(EE1) for Trade name registration within six months.
The form EE1 requires completion of the following details:
- Name of Trade Name
- Nature of Business Activities
- Address of the Activities of the Trade Name
- Information of the Owner of the Company
Duration of Trademarks
Trade names enjoy perpetual protection as long as they remain in use. Renewal applications are unnecessary, and if a company ceases its activities or discontinues the Trade name, an application for removal from the registry is submitted to the Registrar of Companies.