Securing a Name All Its Own

While selecting your business name can be one of the most fun and important exercises you experience when taking on the task of business ownership – it is just as important to take the necessary steps to complete the research and paperwork to secure that name as yours.

Currently, there are four different ways you can go about registering your business name. Your business name can be registered as an Entity Name, a Trademark, a Doing Business as (DBA) Name, and a Domain Name. And – each way of registering serves a different purpose. It’s important to note that some forms of registration can be legally required, depending on your chosen business structure and your location, so – for these reasons, make sure to take the time and do your research because you’ll want the registration of your business name to go as smoothly as possible.

Now let’s delve into the different ways you can go about registering your business name…

By registering your business name as an Entity Name, you have the ability to protect the name of your business at the state level. To check and see if your business name is already registered as an entity, start off by looking online in your local white pages to see if any company in your area is currently using your desired business name. If the results indicate that the name is available, do an additional check online with your local county courthouse to make sure that no one else has registered the name you want to use. Additionally, you should also research whether or not your state requires your business name to be registered as an entity, as your selected business structure and the location of business may require your business name to be registered as such.

In comparison, registering your business name as a Trademark protects the name of your business, goods, and services at a national level, and it prevents others in the same or similar industries from using your trademarked name. Taking the time to trademark your business can prove to be worthwhile as businesses in every state can be subjected to trademark infringement lawsuits – which can prove costly. To check and see if your business name has been trademarked, go ahead and research the current official trademark database – maintained by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In doing this, you can ensure that the business name you select has yet to be trademarked.

A Doing Business as (DBA) Name, also known as your business’ trade name, fictitious name, or assumed name, may or may not be required based on what state, county, or city your business is located, so make sure to research and note what the location of your business requires. While registering your DBA might not be required in some locations, you should still consider looking into registering your business name in this manner as:

– Some business structures require you to use a DBA
– It lets you conduct business under a different identity
– In conjunction with a federal tax ID number (EIN), you may be able to open a business bank account

To check and see if your chosen business name has been registered as a DBA, check with your local government offices and websites; here you can identify the DBA requirements, based on your specific location and chosen business structure.

Finally, your business name can be registered as a Domain Name, aka a website address or URL. In registering your business name as such, you provide your business with an online presence, and – once registered – create the inability for others to use it for as long as you continue to maintain its ownership. Domain names provide you with a good form of protection for your online presence and can be registered through a registrar service. To go about doing this, research and consult accredited registrars to determine which ones are safe and offer you the best combination of price and customer service.

Two items to note if you decide to register your business name as a domain name. First, if you go to register your business name as a Domain Name and you find that it is already in use, have no fear! Your domain name doesn’t have to be the same as your legal business name, trademark, or DBA. And – second, if you want to maintain ownership of your domain name, you’ll need to renew your domain registration on a regular basis.