Can a trademark name be used instead of a business name in legal information such as web-site and product copyright notices, EULAs, Terms Of Use, Privacy Policy, etc., provided that the actual business and trademark registration and ownership information is published on the web-site in a separate section?

In particular, the statements of concerns for me are:

  • "... the agreement between You and TRADEMARK(R)" vs "... the agreement between You and BUSINESS"
  • "... the TRADEMARK(R) is not responsible" vs "... the BUSINESS is not responsible"
  • "... Copyright (C): TRADEMARK(R), YEARS" vs "... Copyright (C): BUSINESS, YEARS"

It's for US/Canada.

  • 2
    I'm a bit confused by the distinction you make between name and trademark, the first thing you do when you register a company is applying for a name. This name has to be unique and if you are given the name no other company can use it
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 12:51
  • That's all true. All those questions arose because the registered business name in this case is a personal name of a sole proprietor business owner, the business has been registered for quite a while but there were no products for sale created by that business. Now there is a product that the business is going to sell. Changing a business name would require another business registration, and the business is not profitable enough to become a corporation. The intention was only to have a visible trading name that users will deal with that is unrelated to the business name that can change later.
    – Alexander
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 14:00
  • No one has mentioned "DBA" -- Doing Business As -- names. Simply register it as an alias for your business name and you are good as gold.
    – Dúthomhas
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 21:09
  • Basically you want an alias for your business, correct? It doesn't have to be a trademark.
    – Mast
    Commented Jul 17, 2021 at 7:02

2 Answers 2


It's best to use formal names in legal documents. For example, Ringo Starr's musical compositions are credited to Richard Starkey.

If you have a business that wishes to do business under a name other than its legal name, you can investigate d/b/a ("doing business as") designation. For the purpose of a single contract or other document, you can usually include language that designates a name for the business such as "this agreement is between Full Name Incorporation, Inc, hereinafter known as Trademark®, and...."

You shouldn't do any of this in real life, however, without first discussing it with your lawyer. If you believe that there is business value in calling your company "Foo" when its actual name is "Bar Corp," then surely that value warrants some expense to find a lawyer who will defend the validity of the company's contracts in court, should that become necessary.

  • 2
    typically doing business as is a prefix that is an allowance for businesses who have changed names and don't want to lose the notoriety they had under the previous name. You would probably be best served to mention both names in a contract, there is no penalty for being too specific in a contract
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 12:57
  • 1
    @NeilMeyer "Notoriety" doesn't mean what you think it means - at least in British English. (It always refers to a bad reputation, not a good one).
    – alephzero
    Commented Jul 17, 2021 at 19:47
  • 1
    @alephzero on the contrary, you appear to be mistaken. Notoriety originally meant, neutrally, "commonly known." "Notorious" only acquired its negative connotation in later centuries (even in the negative senses, all of the OED's citations before 1880 have other negative words carrying the negative connotation). As with many specialist vocabularies, legal language often retains senses that have fallen out of favor in common use. For an example of its recent neutral use in a British judgment, see bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/eu/cases/ECHR/2021/591.html.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 17, 2021 at 21:19
  • 1
    @alephzero for the word's use in a (somewhat less recent) trade mark case, denoting the degree to which the mark is well known, see bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/uk/cases/UKIntelP/2006/…. And one from September 2020: bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/eu/cases/EUECJ/2020/….
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 17, 2021 at 21:26

Referring to your business in a contract, in any other term than what it was incorporated as in its founding documents is a bad idea. Generally speaking, there is a rule that a court will construe ambiguous contract terms against the drafter of the agreement.

This only applies when one party is in a superior bargaining position. If both parties are in a similar bargaining position then the courts will have to decide what was the intent of both parties when going into the agreement.

At this stage, you will enter the Wild Wild West of hearsay, if, and or butts. Really you need assurances when entering into business agreements.

This can be potentially disastrous for a business if some agreement it relied on for business fell through. There is also the option for a contract to be deemed void if the terms could be proven ambiguous. This is another option that can be disastrous for a business.

Yes, you are of course free to make contracts with any language you wish, but you should avoid ambiguity in contracts as far as possible.

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