Naming Your Business

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There is more to naming your business than just coming up with something that sounds good and you happen to like. Thought must be given to state and local requirements and making sure you don’t infringe upon the rights of someone else’s business name.

Legal Requirements And Implications
Picking a name for your business requires much more than just creativity and a working knowledge of your target market. First you’ll need to decide which business structure you will use, since each structure has its own peculiarities. For example, many states require a sole proprietor to use their own name for the business name unless they formally file another name as a trade name, or fictitious name. Read more about How Business Structure Affects Business Names.

Similarly, you will need to determine whether your trade name will be the same as the full legal name of your business. Of equal importance is finding out whether your name or a very similar name is being used by another business, and if so, what rights they may or may not have to use the name in the area where you do business. Keep in mind that some businesses only file trademarks within their locality, so it’s possible that the same name can be used elsewhere. Here’s some information on Trademark FAQs.

Search And Registration
Trade names can be registered through state Secretary of State offices, and for wider marketplace protection, through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO Trademark Search). Businesses should first use the USPTO’s online system to search all state and federal trademark registers to see if their proposed name is being used.

Domain Names
For many businesses that operate on the Web, trade names are synonymous with domain names, such as Amazon.com and Monster.com. Domain names are not registered through state or local government; rather they can be obtained through numerous online businesses, most of which will allow you to conduct a name search prior to purchase to make sure your chosen name isn’t taken.

Read more on choosing a business name and find other helpful information at the SBA website.

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