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Tips for Choosing a Business Name that is Unique, Web-Ready, and Legally Yours!; Part 2

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Tips for Choosing a Business Name that is Unique, Web-Ready, and Legally Yours!; Part 2

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: August 27, 2009 Updated: February 11, 2011

Your business name is its identity. With the huge growth in the availability of diverse marketing tools with which to promote your business - from Web sites to social media networking platforms, and more - choosing the right business name, and ensuring it is registered and protected, is more important than ever.

My last post covered the basics of choosing a business name that works for your small business venture in a Web savvy world. Following directly from that post, here are some tips to help you protect your business name against trademark infringement and register it with the right regulatory bodies for the purposes of taxation, incorporation, licenses, and permits.

1. Make Sure your Chosen Business Name is not a Registered Trademark

Once you have chosen your business name, you will need to determine whether another business has already claimed a registered or unregistered trademark using your proposed business name. You can do this by conducting a simple Internet search. If you are in any doubt or simply want to avoid potential trademark violations, you can also contact your local county clerk's office to confirm name availability.

Multiple databases should be consulted to provide the most thorough search effort. The Thomas Register (available online) provides entrepreneurs with a free, unregistered trademark database. Federally registered trademarks can be found on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's database.

If you find a business operating under your proposed name, you may still be able to use it, provided your business and the existing business offer different goods/services or are located in different regions.

2. Registering Your Business Name

If you choose to name your business under a trade name, as opposed to your personal name - for example "Joe's Consulting Services" - you cannot operate that business under that name until it is officially registered with your local government and you receive a "Doing Business As" or DBA permit from your local government. Until then, the legal name of your business essentially defaults to your given name. Find out how to register your business name in your state.

3. Trademarking your Business Name

Registering your business name for an official trademark is not a required process, but it can protect your business identity, as well as provide some form of reassurance that your online brand identity will remain your own. If you only do business in one state you can register for a trademark at the state level (find your state Web site here); if you operate in more than one state you can register for a federal trademark via the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. To understand more about trademark protection refer to this Patents, Trademarks and Copyright Small Business Guide from www.business.gov.

Additional Resources

Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.

Message Edited by JamieD on 09-01-2009 01:58 PM

About the Author:

Caron Beesley


Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

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