How to legally protect your business name

Lock it down

An organization’s business name is one in every of its most necessary model belongings, in order a business proprietor you need to do the whole lot you’ll be able to to protect it. Not positive how to legally protect your business name? We’ve received you lined.

Disclaimer: This content material shouldn’t be construed as authorized or tax recommendation. Always seek the advice of an legal professional or tax skilled concerning your particular authorized or tax scenario.

How to legally protect your business name

Here are 5 steps to assist be sure the name you select for your business is legally yours to use and hold for the long term.

  1. Do your homework.
  2. Register the business name in your state.
  3. Secure a website name.
  4. Trademark your model.
  5. Protect your trademark.

Let’s bounce in.

Important be aware: A business name is totally totally different from a trademark. Company names can be utilized as emblems if they’re related to items and providers, however there are a lot of firm names that don’t find yourself as emblems.

1. Do your homework

Have you considered the right business name for your business solely to do a web-based search and notice another person is utilizing it? Fortunately, simply since you discovered one other web site utilizing the name doesn’t essentially imply you continue to can’t use it for your business.

Likewise, even when a search doesn’t end in every other web sites arising with the business name you need, that doesn’t imply you’ll be able to retain the name for your personal use.

Legally proudly owning a business name begins with registering the business name within the state your business is positioned.

Related: GoDaddy guide to naming a business

2. Register the business name in your state

Registering a business name is determined by the authorized construction you selected for your business.

If you’re a sole proprietor and also you’re utilizing your authorized name because the business’s name, you almost certainly don’t want to register the business name. However, you additionally received’t have the protections you’d as an LLC or a company.

If you’re registering your business in your state as an LLC, a C Corp or an S Corp, registering your business name is a part of the method.


In all circumstances, if you’re conducting business underneath a distinct name than the unique one you selected, or if the only real proprietorship is your authorized name, however you market your business as one thing extra common, you then’ll additionally want to register the fictional name, or the “Doing Business As” (DBA) name.

Each Secretary of State has the means to analysis to see if every other business positioned in your state is utilizing the identical name. You also can use a third-party search instrument.

If you haven’t had time to fill out all of the paperwork to register your entity in your state, you’ll be able to nonetheless fill out a business name reservation request, so you could have a minimum of began the method of defending your business name. Usually, a name reservation will place your chosen name on maintain for 30 to 90 days.

You must also know that each state has restrictions on words you need to use in your business name. For instance, something that means the business is a governmental unit, a professionally licensed business (when it’s not) or a name deceptively like one other business name already registered just isn’t allowed.

Also, merely registering the business name in your state doesn’t protect you or offer you any authorized rights to the name on the federal stage. However, it’d present your intent to construct and protect your model with the United States Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO).

Securing a authorized trademark on the federal stage is how to cease different companies from utilizing your model name.

3. Secure a website name

Registering the area name for your business — when you’ll possible use as its website address and for your business email — exhibits that you just’re severe about defending your model.

Does it matter if the area name isn’t precisely your business’s name? Of course, having the identical area name as your business name is right, however an increasing number of business house owners are discovering precise names, particularly with .com extensions, will be difficult to safe.

Luckily, area registrars like GoDaddy provide many alternate extensions so you’ll be able to nonetheless have your business name within the URL, however utilizing a distinct extension reminiscent of .biz or .toys.

Want to see if your area is on the market? Check now:

Related: How to buy a domain name

4. Trademark your model

Series Of Locks On Metal Bar

A trademark is a phrase, phrase, image, design or a number of of these items put collectively that identifies your model and distinguishes your items and providers from rivals. Once you start making use of for a trademark, you’ll quickly learn the way necessary the distinctiveness of your name, emblem, tagline and outline is to getting approval.

Before you begin filling out the appliance be sure to have all the knowledge you want at hand. Here are a few of the gadgets you’ll want to submit:

  • If your utility for a trademark contains your emblem, you’ll want to add a descriptive assertion concerning the mark intimately and add a drawing or illustration of the mark.
  • You want to clearly establish the exact items and/or providers to which the mark will apply. The USPTO has a database of acceptable classifications to search by means of.
  • After looking by means of the USPTO database to be sure nobody else has the same trademark, you could fulfill the necessities for a “filing basis.” In different phrases, you’ll want to present whether or not you might be already utilizing the name/mark or if in case you have the intent to use within the close to future.

You could not suppose your model name is shut to one other trademark already in use, but when the USPTO does, you’ll want to clarify that to the workplace.

Once you’ve paid the appliance price and despatched in your on-line utility, the USPTO will overview and assign your utility a serial quantity. Filing charges are nonrefundable. Any correspondence with the USPTO (workplace actions) will want to be responded to in a well timed method or they may assume you could have deserted the trademark.

5. Protect your trademark

If you’re fortunate sufficient to have your trademark authorised, it’s necessary to begin utilizing it in commerce (“usage”) straight away and hold it within the public eye.

Use the name you trademark to model your web site, advertising supplies, electronic mail, retailer indicators and social media presence. Why?

Protection is granted and upheld by utilization — and utilization have to be completed in a high-quality method. If you receive the trademark after which don’t use it, another person might make the argument you don’t deserve the safety and you might lose your rights.

The USPTO requires trademark house owners to file a “Declaration of Use” between the fifth and sixth yr following registration after which once more between the ninth and tenth yr. Then, you’ll be required to file an Application for Renewal to hold possession of the trademark each 10 years.

Related: GoDaddy guide to building a brand

Wrapping up

Your name is necessary to your business. Make positive you are taking the appropriate authorized steps to correctly use and protect it. And, with these steps, you’ll be effectively on your approach in the direction of guaranteeing that you just’ve protected your model now and sooner or later.

Image by: Gabriel Wasylko on Unsplash

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