This post explains what is a tradename and how tradenames are protected and regulated in Cyprus.
What is a Trade Name?
A Trade name or a Business name is the name under which the proprietor or the company ‘does business’, and it is different from the name of the company as a legal entity. Businesses use Trade names for advertising, marketing and sales purposes. It does not contain a design or special characteristics. It is merely a name which is chosen either because it is easier to use or due to the fact that the preferred name cannot be registered, as there might be a registered Trade name similar to that.
A company can have different Trade names each serving a different purpose. Practical advice is that it must be distinctive, and the company can use it, for example, in its letter heads, website etc.
In Cyprus they are regulated under the Partnerships and Business Names Law (Cap.116).
Distinction between Trade Names and Registered Legal Entities
A Trade name is not a separate legal entity. The distinction between them and legal entities is significant, as the consumers and the public in general may not always recognise the legal entity which is legally responsible for any wrongdoings. Additionally, in legal agreements and lawsuits, the name of the legal entity behind the Trade name is always the one that is used.
Distinction between Trade Names & Trademarks
Trademark is the registered brand and Trade name is the trading name of the company. Although they might be similar, they must not be confused. Trademarks refer mostly to the logos which are placed on products or services, so that consumers can develop brand loyalty to them. Trade names have an administrative character, for example, when filling a corporate tax return etc., as it can be said that they are mostly used for convenience.
It is vital to be able to distinct a Trade name with a Trademark, for the apparent reason that if a Trade name is sufficiently similar to a Trademark from a different company, the proprietor may be served with a lawsuit.
The position is the same with Trademarks. Trade names that are used in one sector must be unique and no company of the same sector can use the same Trade name, as it causes confusion with the competitor’s company. On the other hand, if the two companies belong to two different sectors or they are located in different countries, the risk of confusion is minimal. This implies that if a company’s consumers come from wherever the company is located or wherever the company intends to trade, then the Trade name is protected in this location.
Registration of Trade Names
A Trade name can be registered (although, it is not an obligation for it to exist), and the process is rather easy, as it is a common goal not to cause misrepresentation between them and Trademarks. However, they must be registered separately from the Trademarks of the same company. It is important to note that a Trade name is not used as a Trademark, as a Trade name does not grant IP rights to the proprietor.
Trade names are often used in Trademarks. A legal problem with the integration of the Trade name in its Trademark is when it is very similar to or has the same name with another Trademark. In such event, the proprietor may be infringing the other Trademark.
Companies usually hire a Trademark lawyer to search and ensure that the registration of the Trade name in its Trademark does not lead to Trademark infringement. But, first of all, they check if the Trade name has not been already trademarked.
Note that Trademarks prevail over Trade names, over which companies do not have exclusive rights. If a company wants to have exclusive rights over its Trade name, it must register it as a Trademark under the Trademarks Law (Cap.268).
Procedure for Registration of Trade Names in Cyprus
Lawyers in Cyprus often advise that three Trade names be chosen. An application for name approval is filed with the Registrar of Companies, and it is subject to the Registrar’s approval. The reasons for refusal are that:
- a similar name exists, and it will cause confusion;
- the name can be deceptive;
- the name is offensive ; and
- that the name suggests a relationship with the Government.
The next step, and within six months of its reservation, is that the proprietor must file the appropriate form for the registration of the Trade name.
How long are the Trade name rights protected?
Forever! Trade names last for as long as they are used, and an application for its renewal is not necessary. If the company ceases its activities or it stops to use it, the Trade name elapses. Then, an application form is filed with the Registrar of Companies for its removal of the registry.
What we provide
In relation to Trade Names, we can assist in providing legal advice on Cyprus law in Intellectual Property, Trade Name Search, Trade Name Registration, Administration, Objection, Removal, IP Litigation and International Commercial Arbitration.