The Grocer can reveal that Tesco trademarked the name Fresh & Easy last year, along with the varied spellings of Fresh 'n' Easy and Fresh and Easy.
The names were registered with the UK Patent Office under the category used for the naming of a shop, as well as for a mail order and internet business, in June 2005 - almost eight months before Tesco went public with plans to plough £250m a year into the creation of a new US chain.
The name first came to light last month after a job ad appeared on an American recruitment web site asking for applicants who would "develop, implement and administer the Tesco Fresh & Easy culture".
Tesco media director Jonathan Church said at the time that the reports about the job ads were "a hotch-potch of information, much of which is inaccurate".
Asked this week about the trademark, a Tesco spokeswoman said: "We have not yet confirmed a name for our US business. It is still early days and we are working on a number of options. We want our customers to be the first to know, so we will tell you more when we are ready."