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Author
Olga Plyasunova

Trademark attorney

12 March 2021

Trademark vs. Corporate Identity and Brand Name

Often enough, the above terms are used as synonyms in newspapers and magazines, as well as in spoken language. Is such use permissible? Is the legal protection of these types of intellectual property the same? Let us take a deeper look. 

Analysis of the existing provisions in the Civil Code of the Russian Federation and other legal acts shows that only trademark is legally described and enforceable. In accordance with article 1477 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, “... An exclusive right certified by a trademark certificate is recognized for the trademark, i.e., a designation serving for individualizing goods of legal entities or individual entrepreneurs”. This provision also indicates the possibility of registration of a service mark, i.e., to “designations serving for individualizing the works or services performed/provided by legal entities or individual entrepreneurs respectively”. In practice, these types of intellectual property are not separated and the concept of trademark is commonly used.

The other two types of intellectual property, i.e., corporate identity and brand name have no definitions in the domestic legislation. Can we use these terms as equivalent? To answer this question, let’s examine their origins. The use of the term “trademark” is due to the translation of this word from English. When translated this literally into Russian, it soundыexactly the same. That is the definition according to which trademarks are legally protected in foreign countries.

Hence, we can argue that trademark and service trademark are synonymous. However, such use is possible in periodicals or in informal conversations. In legal terms, it is correct to use the term “trademark” for designations used in Russia.

The “brand name” term has recently been actively used in publications in connection with the promotion of regional brands. The very concept of brand is complex and includes brand name, trademarks and other brand identities, business reputation and other intangible assets of the enterprise, which represent the company’s image. There is no legal concept, as well as a limited range of objects that can be attributed to the brand of the firm or region. Accordingly, it can be assumed that the head of the enterprise has the right to decide which objects belong to the brand of the own company and which do not.

However, if we compare the concepts of brand name and trademark, it should be noted that the first concept is broader, as using this term a person may have in mind not only a sign, but also a business reputation or a company name. When mentioning regional brands, people usually mean registered place of origin or geographical indication, which, like trademarks, are brand identity, but point to the territory of origin of a product, thereby attracting consumers to the product of a local manufacturer.

Thus, speaking of the equivalence of the concepts of trademark, corporate identity and brand name, it is worth noting the following.

  • Trademark and corporate identity can be considered synonymous, but in Russia, the first concept is more correct from a legal standpoint.
  • The brand name is a set of intangible assets of a company. When using “brand name” as a synonym for “trademark”, it is important to make sure that the interlocutor understands exactly what is being talked about.
  • A company’s brand may also include other brand identity, such as a company name or a geographical indication.
  • Currently, there is an increase in the number of registrations of “regional brands”, i.e., designations that draw the consumer’s attention to the connection between the quality of the product and the geography of its origin.
  • Of the compared concepts, only a trademark is legally protected in Russia. Therefore, regardless of whether an entrepreneur considers the use of a corporate identity or a brand name, these objects need to be registered in the form of a trademark to ensure the exclusive rights of the owner. Alternatively, it is possible to register a designation in the form of another brand identity, for example, a geographical indication.

 

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