SURNAMES AND TRADE NAMES

It is the right of every individual to use his or her name in connection with his or her product. Therefore, a surname is not recognized as being the exclusive right of the one individual. For example, if your name is Johnson or Ortega, you have a right to use your name in connection with your business; however, if another person with the same surname enters the same business, that person also has a right to use his or her surname. Where a surname has had long and extensive use as a trademark, it can acquire secondary meaning and obtain registration status, thus preventing others with the same surname from using that name as a trademark.

Trade names (that is, the name of companies) are also refused registration as such. However, there is a fine point between tradename usage and trademark usage. Frequently, a tradename includes a trademark. The distinction is the manner in which they are used. For instance, "The Ajax Company" is a tradename and if the only use on the product is in the form of the tradename, it is considered not registrable and not a trademark. However, if the name AJAX appears by itself on the product then it is trademark usage and it is registrable.