Business Law

Choosing & Registering a Business Name

Choosing a name is an important step of the business planning process. You need to pick a name that effectively represents your business and establishes your brand identity. You also must register the name properly to ensure that it is protected. You are putting a lot of time and money into your business, so it is important that you do it right.

What to think about when choosing a name

When choosing the name of your business, there are many factors you must consider:

  • Is that name available?
  • How will that name look as part of a logo?
  • Does it reflect your brand identity?
  • Is your preferred domain name available?

Many entrepreneurs choose their own names as the name of their business. While that is a simple option, sometimes it can be difficult to build your brand when your name does not relate to the service you are providing.

Domain name availability

Creating a web presence is an important part of developing a business. Choosing a unique name that reflects what your business does is a good start. That will also help when it comes time to pick a domain name for your website. There are online resources that will show you if a domain name is available for use or if you can purchase it. Make sure you claim it as soon as possible, even if you haven’t built your website yet.

Trademark protection

Before you choose a name, you have to check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to see if another business has already trademarked that name. Dealing with trademark infringement is costly and time-consuming. You should do your best to avoid it by ensuring that the name you choose is available for use. Once you establish availability, you must trademark your name to protect it from being used by another business.

Registering your business name

Once you choose your business name and ensure that it is available, you need to register it properly with the local, state or federal government. If your business is a corporationLLC or limited partnership, you name will automatically be registered with the state when you file the appropriate documents specific to that structure.

Any business not using their legal name for daily business must register a fictitious name, also called an assumed name, trade name or doing business as (DBA) name. This is the name under which you will operate publicly. If you don’t register your fictitious name, you won’t be able to enforce anything you sign under that name. There will also be no way for other businesses to know that that name is in use. This could cause issues with trademarks and branding. 

Picking a business name is a major step toward forming your business. Your name will identify you to your customers and help you establish a brand. Registering it properly is important to avoid legal issues later and ensure that your business is protected. 

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