Naming is a sacred act, even in the business world. Just as parents name their children when they become part of society, so company owners name their businesses when they become part of whatever industry they contribute to. Whether you’ve settled on a name for your new company or you’re still mulling it over, you’re likely aware of just how important your business name will be to its operations and its likelihood of success. Your business name (ideally) tells the world, in a few words or even a single word, what your company is about and why potential customers should pay attention to your specific operations.
One of the most important parts of the business naming process involves formally registering that name with the government. It is critical to invest a little time and energy in formal business name registration. Being proactive now can save you a great deal of stress down the road.
The Importance of Registering Your Business Name
If you’ve ever been the victim of identity theft, you have a strong sense of how important it is to preserve the integrity of your name, personal and other personal identification information. When your identity is used by others for their own ends, you can suffer negative financial, legal, and personal consequences. Similarly, when the identity of a business is compromised, financial, legal, and practical challenges can follow. Registering your business allows the government, the media, potential customers, potential investors, competitors, and anyone else touched by your operations to know who you are and what you do. This process can also make it far less easy for competitors and would-be intellectual property infringers to compromise the integrity of your brand.
Formal name registration results in enforceable rights to operate under that particular name. That means that if one of your competitors chooses to do business under the same name and in the same market, you can potentially hold them accountable for that infringement. Similarly, you’ll want to protect your company from confusion within the market. If the government, investors, or customers come looking for your company, you’ll stand the best possible chance of being correctly identified if your name is formally registered.
Business Structure Considerations
If you haven’t yet chosen the legal structure for your business, you can potentially register your business name as you register your business as a whole. Many sole proprietorships and smaller partnerships choose not to formally register their operations. However, limited liability companies, more complex partnerships, and corporations must formally incorporate and register their operations before they can conduct business in any given state. As a result, this is the most common way that companies register their names.
Trademark Registration and “Doing Business As”
When a sole proprietorship or partnership that has not formally incorporated wants to register their business name with the state, they generally have two options. They can trademark their name through the state’s trademark registration process (which is different from the federal process) or they can submit a “Doing Business As” notification. You can also opt to register your business name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, although if your business is small, local and you don’t plan to expand, you might not need to take this step. You can always consult with an experienced intellectual property lawyer if you have questions about which name-related protections will best serve your business needs.
The trademark registration process is relatively involve because it requires a search of existing protected marks (especially on the federal level). However, submitting a “Doing Business As” notification with your county clerk or with your state (depending on the reach of your business and your expansion-related aims) is straightforward. You’ll submit a minor filing fee and some paperwork to the government after checking that no local business uses the same moniker.
Business Formation and Intellectual Property Guidance Is Available
If you’re launching a new business, nonprofit company, or startup and you have questions about your company’s legal or financial needs, please schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable attorney at LawTrades today. Our business lawyers have extensive experience assisting new business, startup, and nonprofit organization founders with their legal and financial challenges. We have helped thousands of new companies navigate all aspects of launching their operations. From incorporation to constructing employment contracts, strategizing intelligent approaches to tax obligations to protecting intellectual property, our lawyers can similarly help your new company with whatever legal and financial challenges you’re facing. We look forward to learning about your business model and about how we may best serve your new venture.