Registering Your Business Name
What is in a name? For some businesses, much rests on the business’s name. Marketing, branding and networking can all rely on a business name. A new or existing business needs to ensure that, if it chooses not to do business by its legal name, the name it chooses is available in the state in which it is located.
Business’s Legal Name vs. Business’s Fictitious Name
The legal name of a business and the name that it is commonly known by may be different. If a sole proprietor owns the business, the legal name of the business will be the owner’s full name. If partners own a business, the legal name of the business will be the last names of the partners or the name they specified in the partnership agreement, if any. If the business is a corporation or limited liability company (LLC), the legal name will be the name registered with the state government or county clerk, depending on what the state’s laws require.
A business may be known by another name, though. States refer to this name as the fictitious name, trade name, doing business as (DBA) name or the assumed name. Corporations and LLCs will register their business names when they file paperwork with the state for formation. But when a sole proprietorship or partnership wishes to be known by a fictitious name, many states require the business owner to file paperwork with the secretary of state or the county clerk where the business is located. The state’s laws may also require the owner to publish the business name in a paper of record or satisfy other compliance measures.
What does registering a business name protect? The short answer is that registering a business name does not protect anything. Rather, registration serves as notice to the public that the business will be operating under a fictitious name. Registration does not protect the business’s rights to use the name as copyright or trademark law might.
What About Internet Domain Names?
An important component for many, if not most, businesses is Internet presence. Most businesses view a Web site as an important tool to provide information to consumers about their products and services, to brand their business and to market their business to consumers that they might not otherwise reach.
Each Web site is found using a domain name; it is the equivalent of an address, and each address must be unique. While some businesses do not place much emphasis on domain names, for some business, because of the nature of their products or services, obtaining a domain name that allows them to be found quickly and easily on the Internet is imperative. For others, securing the right domain name gets a lock on Internet traffic for their product or service market.
On occasion, choosing the right fictitious business name and Internet domain name are critical issues for the business. If you think that Internet marketing will play a role in your business, you may want to research available Internet domain names along with fictitious business names to ensure that your business gets off on the right foot. An attorney can help you with registration and research matters.
Preparing to Meet With Your Business Law Attorney
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