So, you’ve started a business and you’re starting to get some great traction. Now is the perfect time to start protecting your business name.
Why is it important?
Your business name is valuable and a lot of purchasing decisions are based on reputations and brand representation. It is important to understand and protect it to save yourself from potentially losing business or confusing customers, if and when a competitor sets up a business with a name that’s similar or identical to yours.
What are my options?
Registering a DBA
Registering your business name involves a process known as registering a “Doing Business As (DBA)” name or trade name. This is not the same process as incorporating your business or protecting it with trademarks but it is the simplest way to let your state government know that you are doing business as a name other than your personal name or the legal name of your partnership or corporation. Check your local county or state laws for more information on registering a DBA.
A trademark will protect the word, symbol, design, or a combination of those that are associated with your company from being replicated by a competing company. Should you need to defend yourself in court, obtaining a federally registered trademark will provide the legal protection you need. To conduct a search of the current database of federal registered trade and service marks, refer to www.uspto.gov.
Form a Business Entity
One of the best ways to protect your business name in your state is to form a business entity such as a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC). State business filing agencies won’t let two business entities have the same or deceptively similar names to one another, allowing you to “claim” your name in your home state. There are limits to your protection though; your name won’t be protected outside of your home state and an individual or business can still use your business name without setting up a formal business entity with fictitious business names, or DBAs.
In an ever-growing digital world, online real estate is becoming more valuable and scarce by the day. Registering your business as a domain name can protect your business name online. Even if you don’t plan on creating a website right away, registering your business domain name will ensure it is ready when you need it. To ensure other businesses don’t use your business name, consider registering multiple domain names and name extensions like .net, .co and .org.
How can I get started?
When it comes to protecting your business name, the best defense is a proactive offense. Take steps to protect yourself sooner rather than later by registering your business name in your state and with the federal government. Don’t allow harmful, unauthorized use of your business name. Let us help you evaluate your options.
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*The information presented in this article does not constitute legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information presented in this article is not tax advice.