One of the first things new business owners do is decide what to name their new enterprise. Since there are a LOT of companies in the world, it’s likely that any name an owner chooses will be in use somewhere. That’s when things really get interesting.
Many owners turn to Internet searches such as Google® to figure out whether a name is available or taken by someone else. Below are some additional places that should be searched and issues that should be considered before adopting a name for your company and investing a lot of time and money into promoting it.
- Your state’s Secretary of State – A simple search of your state’s Secretary of State records can let you know if another company in your state has registered the name (either as a “doing business as – D/B/A or as the actual name of their company). If the name is already registered, it is likely that the SOS will reject any registration you attempt. Also, if another company in your state is using the name, you’ll likely want to avoid it for many reasons, including confusing your potential customers!
- The United States Patent and Trademark Office – You may be thinking: “But I’m not going to get a federal trademark on the name, why search the PTO?” The reason is to avoid any issues down the line. Checking the appropriate classes of goods and services for the name you plan to use is a wise move and can save on a costly rebrand at a later date.
Still don’t think its worth it to do a bit of homework before naming your company or organization?Consider the lawsuit filed this week against Project Legos, a Minnesota non-profit, by LEGO®, the toy brick maker. No matter how this case ends up, Project Legos will undoubtedly be spending money that it would rather be using elsewhere.