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Brands vs. Company Names

by | Jan 14, 2019 | Trademark topics, IP points, Evoke Law | 0 comments

Since there are different rules for trademarks and business names you must be aware of when you are referring to the brand versus the company/trade name. When using the name to refer to the company, the company name can and should be used as a proper noun, rather than as an adjective. You may also make the company name possessive. In contrast, when you are using your trademark, it should be used as an adjective, and not as a noun.

Correct as a business name: Evoke Law is attending the upcoming MJBiz conference in Las Vegas.

Correct as a trademark: Evoke Law® legal services focus on trademark and copyright protection.

Incorrect as a trademark: Evoke Law® is located in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district.

A trademark functions as a source-identifier of “who” provides the goods/services, not an identifier of “what” the goods/services is. In the correct use shown above, our mark is used correctly as a source identifier for legal services to identify who is providing the services. In the incorrect use above, the reference to “Evoke Law” is to the company, not the mark, and use of the ® symbol is incorrect.

The ‘Brand Test’ for Determining Trademark Use

One helpful method for determining whether the use requires a “TM,” “®,” or no symbol at all is to orally insert the word ‘brand’ between the suspected mark and the noun. For example, the Evoke Law® “brand” legal services is proper trademark use and the “®” designation is appropriate (because we own a federally registered trademark for legal services, along with a federal registration for the logo mark and our tagline “The Legal Edge in Branding®”).

However, “Evoke Law ‘brand’ is located in San Francisco” is improper because it is not actual trademark use. Notice how saying ‘brand’ after does not seem quite right. That is because the reference to Evoke Law in this example is to the organization, and there should be no notice symbol.


Contact us at iplaw@evoke.law if you have any questions about proper use of your trademarks.