How to Protect Your Business Name, by Jane Haskins, Esq.

 

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Your business’s name means a lot. It identifies your brand. It signifies your reputation. And it’s how your loyal customers know you.

But when a competitor sets up a business with a name that’s similar or identical to yours, your customers can become confused, you can lose business, and your reputation may suffer.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take now that will help ensure that your good name will stay that way.

Protecting Your Name in Your Home State

One of the best ways to protect your business name in your home state is to form a business entity such as a corporation or a limited liability company.

Your state’s business filing agency won’t let two business entities have the same name. In some states, business entities also can’t have names that are deceptively similar to one another. Because of this rule, incorporating or forming an LLC allows you to “claim” your name in your home state and prevent other business entities from using it.

You can check business name availability in your state by contacting the state agency that handles business filings. Many states allow you to search business names online.

If you plan to form a formal business entity but aren’t ready to do it right away, nearly all states allow you to reserve a business name. Different states allow reservations for different amounts of time.

The protection you receive when you form a business entity does have limits: your name won’t be protected outside your home state and an individual or business can still use your business name without setting up a formal business entity.

Filing a DBA or Registering a Business Name

Can you protect your business name without forming a corporation or an LLC?

Read more…