Forming specific company organisations, using an assumed name, or registering a trademark may all provide you with business name protection.
After deciding on a business name for your new venture, you need to register it to prevent others from using it. There are numerous approaches that may be used.
Several variables, like the business structure, the geographical region in which the firm will operate, and the level of protection required, will be considered when determining the best option to register a business name.
How to Register a Company Name
A company may register a name in one of three ways:
Create a legal entity, such as a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC).
Register the company name as an assumed name, often known as a DBA (“doing business as”).
Make a federal trademark application for the company name.
Not all firms can use all three approaches, and some may employ more than one.
The options may differ depending on whether the company is organised as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an LLC, or a corporation.
We will look at the many alternatives for a hypothetical firm to demonstrate the possibilities. In our scenario, Robert Hansen establishes a residential home rental company after purchasing one property specifically for this reason. He starts by operating as a solo proprietorship under the name “Robert Hansen, Property Rentals.” As time passes, Robert purchases additional properties and decides he needs a new name for his company.
Establishing a Business Entity
One alternative for Robert is to form a corporation or a limited liability company. To do so, he must submit specific registration paperwork to the relevant state body. This necessitates the selection of a legal name for the company.
State rules make it illegal for a corporation to use a name that is already in use by another company. As a result, part of the process of choosing a name include reviewing the state’s records to ensure that the intended name is not already in use by another organisation.
Robert determines that the name “Sunrise Properties” is available and decides to utilise it. He might incorporate under the name “Sunrise Properties, Inc.” and submit articles of incorporation under such name. Alternatively, he might file articles of incorporation under the name “Sunrise Properties, LLC.” This would prohibit other corporations in his state from using the name “Sunrise Properties.”
Creating a company or LLC only gives protection in the state in which it is registered. If Robert wishes to expand into another state, he may be able to register his company there if the name is not already registered there.
Using an Assumed Name to Register
Any sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company that does business under a name other than its own must register the other name as an assumed name.
This is usually done with a county agency, although in certain places it may be done with a state agency. In certain places, this is known as a fictional name, and it is also known as a “doing business as” or “dba” name.
If Robert wishes to continue functioning as a single owner, he may be able to register “Sunrise Properties” as an assumed name. The name “Sunrise Properties” might then be used by Robert.
Anyone looking at the official documents will see that his company is really “Robert Hansen dba Sunrise Properties.”
The registration of assumed names is not restricted to single proprietorships. Assume Robert establishes Sunrise Properties, Inc. and wishes to start a yard care service under a different name. Sunrise Properties, Inc. may register “Sunrise Lawn Services” as an assumed name in this situation. “Sunrise Properties, Inc., dba Sunrise Lawn Services” would then be the name.
Assume Robert hires Laura Deever as his partner instead of founding a company or LLC. Their partnership may choose to use the name “Sunrise Properties” as their assumed name. Alternatively, they might merge their surnames and register “Han-Dee Properties.”
Assumed name registration often protects the name solely in the county in which it is registered. If the company intends to operate in more than one county, registration in each county is needed.
Registration of Trademarks and Trade Names
Protection for a trademark, trade name, or service mark may be offered on a statewide basis. The conditions for registering differ from one state to the next. Such registration is required in each state where the company operates.
Registering a company name as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is a more complicated and typically more costly method of registering a business name.
This ensures that a company’s name is protected throughout the country. A check to ensure that a comparable name hasn’t previously been registered is required for federal trademark registration, and there are extensive rules and limits connected to the ability to trademark a company name.
The best approach, or ways, to protect your business name will depend on how you organise your firm, the sort of products or services you provide, and the geographical scope of your business activities.
Many small businesses that operate in just one state may find that forming as a corporation or LLC provides enough protection.