Trademark law

The trade name is the name under which a business is run. Trade name law is governed by the Dutch Trade Names Act (HNW) and jurisprudence. In legal terms, there are no specific requirements which a symbol has to meet to serve as a trade name, as long as it can be heard and seen and - of course - is used as a trade name. Furthermore, the public may not be misled about the ownership and legal form of the enterprise. Placing "B.V." behind your name when in fact you are a one-man business is thus forbidden. Registration of your trade name with the Chamber of Commerce is not necessary. Use of a domain name can also be regarded as use as a trade name. Unlike a trademark, the trade name does not need to have a distinguishing capacity. But it should be clear that a court will not easily be inclined to protect "Baker" as the trade name of a bakery.

An entrepreneur can prohibit another entrepreneur who is fishing in the same pond from - later - carrying a trade name that is identical to, or sounds the same as, his own. To do that, one can revert to the district court or the court in interlocutory proceedings. The lion's share of legal cases are all about who has to yield to the other; who holds the oldest rights. The maxim is that any younger trade name must yield to an older trade name or older brand. But putting it like that is to ignore the fact that cases relating to trade names, whether or not in combination with brands, can be really complex. Van Eeckhoutte will examine the case and line things up for you so that you can pursue the best strategy.