The legal requirements of naming your business

requirements of naming your business

You have the perfect name for your business. Can you use it? Not just y

Step 1: Know your business structure

Naming rules differ on the way your business is set up, operated and taxed. Common business structures range from formal (LLCs and C Corporations) to informal structures like Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships. Here we list these structures and some common naming rules:

An LLC or Limited Liability Company is the most convenient way of structuring your business. Depending on the state in which you operate, an LLC will, provided no fraud was committed, protect your personal assets should your business be sued. Your name needs to:
1.  Include the phrase “limited liability company,” or (LLC or L.L.C.).
2. Not include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.) and
3. restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.

A C Corporation business structure protects your personal assets. Owners or shareholders are taxed separately from the entity. Legally, your business name needs to:
1. Contain the word “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” “limited” or an abbreviation of one of these terms.
2. Be distinguishable from any existing business in your state.
3. Not include words that could confuse your corporation with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).

A Sole Proprietorship is an informal business structure. The business owner is responsible for its debts. This business structure must operate under the surname of the owner. To use a different name for a sole proprietorship, the owner must file a DBA (Doing Business As). More about this later.

A General Partnership is much like a sole proprietorship, but in this instance two or more people agree to share in all assets, profits, and liabilities of a business. Legally your business must include the surnames of the partners and all owners must file a DBA to use a different name.  

Step 2: Check name availability

It is crucial that you check the name availability on your state’s business name database. Why? You would not want to settle on a name only to discover that it is not available or run into legal difficulties should your business be similar to someone else’s. Most states require you to have a unique name for your business. 

Step 3: Register a domain main

Check if your business name is available as a domain name on this website, irrespective whether you plan on having an online presence now or in future. You will need to register your domain name through a registrar service. Once registered, no one can use it. Keep in mind that you will need to renew your domain registration regularly. Also consider setting up a professional email account. Try Google’s G Suite. It is free for the first 14 days, and thereafter for a minimal monthly fee. 

Step 4: Conduct a Federal Trademark Search

A trademark can protect the name of your business, goods, and services and prevent others in similar industries in the U.S. from using them. If the name you chose is too close to another company’s, go back to the drawing board. Trademark infringement may cost you unnecessary expenses. To do a trademark search, consult the Federal trademark Database to see if it is available. Make sure the name follows the state laws.

Step 5: Doing Business As (DBA)

A DBA (Doing Business As), also known as a fictitious name, assumed name or trade name, allows you to operate your business under a different name from your legal, registered business name. This is useful if for example, your company name and domain name is not the same. Although registering your DBA does not provide limited liability protection, most states require you to register your DBA if you use one. 

If your unique business name is available in your state, the next step is to register that name. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wanq3MATOfI&t=1s

et. This step by step guide will help ensure your business name complies with all legal requirements. 

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