What’s in a Business Name?
Registering a business name is one of the first steps to take in business formation. Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name.” In business, the name can become one of its most important assets. It is often difficult to pick the right name. I have seen folks wrestle with this problem for weeks.
Once you have picked your name, your next step should be making sure it’s available to use in your state. The best way to do this is to go to the state business division on the internet and check the name. For a small fee, you can reserve the name until you can get the paperwork filed, or you can hurry and file your corporate or LLC paperwork.
Registering a business name is easy to do as a rule because you automatically register your business name when you file your articles of incorporation or articles of organization with your state filing office. Registering the business is the way the state insures that no other corporation, LLC, or limited partnership will be able to use the same name.
Once you have finished registering a business name, you’ll want to protect it in every way you can. This means filing for trademark protection at the state and federal level, if appropriate. If you just plan to do business in your state alone, this step may not be necessary.
Registering a Business Name as a Trademark
Though the law does not require it, registering a business name as trademark will provide powerful protection if another business later tries to use your business name, or one that’s confusingly similar. This is especially important if you plan to market your service or product in different states or internationally.
Registering a business name as a trademark is fairly easy. You file an application for federal trademark protection. Registering a business name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office puts the rest of the country on notice that the name is already taken, and it makes it easier to defend your name against would-be infringers. Click this link to learn more about filing a trademark application.
Once you have the trademark, you are responsible for enforcing your trademark. The US Patent and Trademark Office does not “police” the use of trademarks. They do ensure that no other party receives a federal registration for an identical or similar mark for or as applied to related goods/services. The owner of a registration trade mark is responsible for bringing any legal action to stop a party from using an infringing mark.
The Internet Domain Name
Real estate in cyberspace is a big deal today. You business name needs to be available in cyberspace as a “domain name.” If your exact business name isn’t available in cyberspace, then you need to determine whether or not a domain name is available that would let the public see your business in cyberspace. Go to WhoIs on the internet to see if a domain name is available.
The domain name is your “real estate” in cyberspace. We just sold one of our simple domain names for $25,000. It was a name that we picked up just two years earlier. Real estate in cyberspace is becoming more valuable all of the time, and it may be critical to your business success in today’s world.
Shakespeare may have asked what is in a name, but it is up to the business owner to create value in the business name and protect that name and its value.