Choose a business name that symbolizes your brand identity and does not conflict with the products or services you provide. Once you’ve decided on a name, you must safeguard it. There are four options for registering your company name. Each method of registering your name serves a distinct function, and depending on your business structure and region, some may be legally required.
There are several options for registering your business name
At the state level, an entity name can safeguard your company’s name. The state may require you to register a legal entity name, depending on your business structure and location.
The state uses your entity name to identify your company. Each state may have various restrictions regarding the name of your business and the use of company suffixes. Most jurisdictions don’t let you register a name that has already been taken, and some states demand that your organization name reflect the type of business it represents.
In most circumstances, registering your entity name protects your company and forbids anyone else in the state from using the same name. There are, however, exceptions in the areas of state and company structure.
Consult your state’s regulations on how to register your business name.
A trademark can protect your company’s name, products, and services on a national level. Trademarks restrict others in the same (or comparable) industry from using your trademarked names in the United States.
If you were an electronics firm and wanted to call your company Springfield Electronic Accessories and one of your items Screen Cover 5000, trademarking those names would prevent other electronics companies or goods from using those names.
Trademark infringement litigation can be costly for businesses in any state. That is why you should cross-reference your proposed business, product, and service names with the official trademark database maintained by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
If you want your company to have an online presence, you should first register a domain name, which is also known as your website address or URL.
No one else can use your domain name after you register it for as long as you control it. It’s a wonderful strategy to safeguard your internet brand.
It’s fine if someone else has already registered the domain you intend to use. It’s not necessary for your domain name to match your formal business name, trademark, or DBA.
A registrar service will help you register your domain name. Determine which authorized registrars are safe to use by consulting a directory of accredited registrars, and then choose the one that gives the best price and customer service. Your domain registration must be renewed on a regular basis.
Doing business as (DBA) name
Your DBA — also known as a trade name, fictitious name, or assumed name — may need to be registered with the state, county, or city where your business is located. Although registering a DBA name does not provide legal protection in and of itself, most jurisdictions require that you do so if you use one. A DBA is required in several corporate formats.
Even though registering a DBA isn’t needed, you may wish to do so nonetheless. A DBA allows you to conduct business under a name other than your own or your formal company entity name. Having a DBA and a federal tax ID number (EIN) also permits you to open a business bank account.
In one state, multiple businesses can use the same DBA, allowing you to be more creative with your name. There’s also more flexibility in terms of business function clarity. For example, a small business owner could name their entity Springfield Electronic Accessories yet utilize TechBuddy as their DBA. Just keep in mind that trademark laws will still apply.
Based on your specific region, determine your DBA requirements. Check with local government offices and websites for requirements that vary by business structure, state, county, and municipality.