A trade name is the name under which a business is conducted. The name, for example, of a private or public limited company under the articles of association is a trade name.
The trade name is created by using it. It is sensible, however, to have the trade name registered with the Chamber of Commerce. The right to a trade name exists at least as long as the trade name is used.
New trade name
When thinking up a new trade name it is important that the new trade name does not conflict with an existing trade name or an existing trademark right. In order to prevent conflicts with existing trade names, the Dutch Chamber of Commerce can be asked to carry out a search. In order to prevent conflicts with existing trademark rights, the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) can be asked to carry out a search.
TSG, PDO or PGI
In addition to patent rights and breeding rights, there are a number of other ways to protect agricultural products (or foods). These are the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG, such as mozzarella from Italy), the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO, such as feta cheese from Greece) and the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI, such as Danablu from Denmark).
All 3 are regulated at a European level and are free of charge for the applicant.
Traditional Speciality Guaranteed
A TSG concerns the traditional character of the composition of the product or its manner of production. ‘Traditional’ means an unchanged and demonstrated use on the EU market for a period of at least 25 years.
Protected Designation of Origin
A PDO is given to agricultural products and foods that are grown, produced and made in a particular geographical area. For a product to obtain a PDO, there must be a link between the quality or the characteristics of the product and the geographical environment.
Protected Geographical Indication
A PGI is granted to agricultural products and foods that are grown and/or produced and/or made in a particular geographical area. There must be a link between the nature or fame of the product and its geographical origin.
The European Commission keeps a register of TSGs, PDOs and PGIs. They can be found in the DOOR database, which contains applications that are still pending as well as those which have been published and granted. For each listed product a product file is available. Anyone making the product according to the specifications contained in the product file may use the name given. These forms of protection therefore differ from a brand name, which may only be used by the registered holder.
Wines have their own regime. The European Commission keeps a register of the IGT wines (IGT = indicazione geografica tipica = indication of geographical origin). If a producer wants to use an IGT name, at least 85% of the wine must originate from the geographical area whose name it bears. Furthermore, it must comply with the criteria contained in the accompanying product file. These criteria concern, for example, the maximum yield of grapes per hectare or the alcohol content of the wine. A well-known example is Champagne. Since designating Champagne an IGT, no other sparkling wine may be called Champagne. View the IGT register.
Confidentiality / Non-disclosure agreement
It may be easy to discover how a new coffee-maker or a new combustion engine works. If this is the case, secrecy is insufficient and it is wise to obtain a patent. In the case of a product that is difficult to reproduce, one cannot discover how the invention works. This makes 'reverse engineering' (the reversal of the production process) difficult.
If 'reverse engineering' is not possible and you are able to keep your invention secret, patent protection is undesirable in many cases. Secrecy is often the method of protection for manufacturing methods or recipes. A famous example is the recipe of Coca Cola.
Trade secrets in practice
A trade secret is information that is secret and that has commercial value. The owner of a trade secret must actively protect his/her trade secrets (e.g., through confidentiality agreements, storing trade secrets in a safe and stamping documents as 'confidential'). On this page you find more information and models of non-disclosure (or confidentiality) agreements. Our office is not responsible for the content of this site.