A company’s name can be one of its most valuable assets, representing both its brand and reputation. As a business owner, you should do everything possible to safeguard this name so that it isn’t taken advantage of by someone else.
When selecting a business name, it is essential to conduct a comprehensive search of the business names database in your state and Canada to guarantee no other company has registered an identical one. If another firm has taken your desired title, contact a lawyer for assistance in reclaiming your rights.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be eligible to register a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A trademark is an intellectual property right that grants business owners exclusive rights to use a particular name. Furthermore, it gives them legal capacity to sue another company if they infringe upon your trademark.
In certain circumstances, you may be able to register a business name with the business filing agency in your home state. Doing this ensures that only you are allowed to use the name in that jurisdiction and no other businesses can use it elsewhere. Especially useful if you have an eye-catching, memorable name and want it kept exclusive for your company.
Forming an LLC or corporation is also an effective way to safeguard your company’s name from other businesses. Once registered in your state, any other limited liability company or corporation cannot register the same name there.
Protecting a business name can be done several ways, but the most popular is to register it with the USPTO as a federal mark. This registration offers protection from other businesses using your mark and is relatively inexpensive to do so.
Registering a trademark for your business name in the state where it’s situated can be done, though this process is more complex and requires legal counsel. Once registered with the state, you’ll also have to file a federal trademark application with the USPTO.
Unprotected business names or those without trademarks can be confusing to customers and lead them to believe your business is something other than what it actually is. This issue becomes especially prevalent in today’s digital age when consumers are more likely to visit your website or social media pages than search for your company’s phone number or address.
Your business name should accurately describe the goods or services you offer and be easily remembered. Avoid words that imply it’s a government entity, such as “bank,” “trust” or “insurance.”
The initial step in safeguarding your business name is a comprehensive search of both the USPTO’s and your state’s trademark databases. This search can be done at no cost to you.