You have finally found a fresh idea for a product, service or company and are getting ready for take-off. You have even settled on a name. This is not the time to start printing out business cards. You need to be sure that you can protect the business name. You need to ensure that no one else is using it.Your business name is essential. It is what people use to identify your brand. It represents your uniqueness. So, you need to protect it. But who exactly knows how to copyright a business name accordingly?
If another business were to use that same name or a name very similar to it, it could confuse your customers. It can be damaging to your reputation and can make you lose business. There is no course to worry though; we are going to explore different ways on you how to copyright a business name to protect your finances.
How to Copyright a Business Name in Your Home State
One of the easiest ways to protect the name of your business within your state is by forming a business entity. It can be a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. The state will not allow anyone to register a business entity under a name that has been used by another business entity within the state. Some states also don’t allow business entities to use names that may be considered to be deceptively similar.
This single rule will protect your business name in your home state. You can contact the agency that deals with business filings in your state to confirm whether the name you want to use is available. In case you want to open a business but are not prepared to do it right away, most of the states will give you a chance to reserve the name. The time allowed for reservation will vary from state to state.
However, the protection your business name gets under this method is only operational within the boundaries of your home state. Any other individual or business outside your state can still use your name. Any person within your state can also use the name provided they do not set up the business entity formally.
Different Forms That a Business Name Can Take
- Business legal name: It is the official name of the entity or person who owns the business. If you are the single owner of the firm, then the legal business name is your full name. Also, if the business is a partnership between two or more individuals, the legal business name is that which you have agreed to as partners. If you fail to agree on a particular name, then the legal business name will be the partners’ last names by default.
- Trade name or DBA: A trade name or DBA is the fictitious name that you chose to give a business other than your legal name. You need to register these trade names or doing business as names with the local government as such. It applies to LLC’s, partnerships and sole proprietors. It is important to note that not all states will require you to register fictitious business names.
How to Copyright a Business Name by Trademark
For your business name to be eligible for trademark protection, it needs to have met two criteria. First, it has to be distinctive. Secondly, it must not be deemed to be creating a sense of confusion with another registered trademark. To protect your business name as a trademark, you need to register it with the U.S Patent and Trademark office.
Unlike the other methods of protection, registering your business as a trademark will protect it nationally. It will prevent other people within the country from registering a company trademark under the same name.
However, not all names are eligible for a trademark. These include generic or descriptive names. A carpet cleaning business with the name Quality Carpet Cleaning or a health resort with the name Spa cannot be trademarked because they are only descriptive names. The law cannot prohibit others from using them.
When your business registers a trademark, it usually means that other companies will not be able to use that name if they are dealing with competitive products and services, competitive being the operative word. In other words, trademarks are meant to avoid confusion. They are, therefore, offered within specific classes of goods and service. Another legal entity can still use your name provided it operates in another sphere of business.
How to Perform a Trademark Search
You need to visit the U.S. patents and trade office (USPTO) website and click on Search for Trademarks. Search for the name that you intend to use and any other names that may have similar spelling, sound, or meaning.
Take care not to choose a name that closely resembles that of a big company. You would not want to be dragged into a law suit with any of these enterprises. Whenever such conflicts end up on the floor of the court, the company that is ready to spend more money on the lawsuit will almost always win. That’s the sad truth.
How to Copyright a Business Name Online
Registering your business name as a domain name is the only way to protect it online. You can purchase a unique domain name from a domain provider. You can still buy a domain name even if you don’t intend to create your website at the moment.
However, you should register a couple of domain names to cover all popular domain name extensions (.com, .net, .info) to ensure that no other business can use your name as part of its domain. Yet, registering a domain name will not prevent another entity from using your business name in other ways. You need still need to learn how to copyright a business name offline.
To the ©
After learning how to copyright a business name, it is up to you to remain proactive. When you settle on a name, don’t just sit and wait. Take the necessary steps to ensure that you protect that name locally and nationally.
It will safeguard the business from unauthorized use that may damage its reputation.