Registering Your Business Name
Your business name is the centre of your business brand. Once you’ve chosen it, you need to ensure that it’s fully protected. Registering your business name is a legal aspect of owning a business because it allows the public to see who’s behind your company. It also prevents anyone else using it or something similar, so your branding will be completely unique. You can choose whether to protect your business name in your home state, or throughout all 50 fifty states, depending on whether your business is nationwide or local.
There are three ways of registering your business name in the USA and the route you take depends on what works best for your business:
Firstly, you can file a Doing Business As, or DBA. This is the simplest way of registering a business name, particularly if you have a sole proprietorship, because it means you can register without having to incorporate a formal business structure like a corporation. A DBA can be filed with your state and is also known as a Fictitious Business Name, which often appears in the classified listings in the local paper.
Secondly, you can register your business name by setting up an official business structure, such as an LLC or corporation. When you do this, your company name is automatically registered with the state you incorporated in. The state will ensure that no one is operating under your proposed business name or similar before processing your application, and when it has been approved no one else will be able to trade under your name. If you plan on expanding your business in more states, you’ll need to obtain additional brand protection as this route only protects you in the state you set up in.
Thirdly, you can register your business name as a trademark. This is serious brand protection and although it costs a bit more, it provides protection in all 50 states. You can apply for a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This is not a legal requirement as with the other two options, but it does have more impact than “common law” rights. Having a trademark gives you watertight security against copyright infringement and intellectual property, as well as giving your business more credibility by demonstrating that you and your business brand are serious.
Taking the right legal steps to properly ensure your business name is protected is an essential part of your company formation. We can help you register your business name as part of our company incorporation service and we also offer a trademark registration service. Contact us for further information.