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Choosing a Name for your Business Entity (LLC, Corporation)

There are three main points you should consider before choosing a name for your business entity.

1. Check Name Availability

First, be sure that the name you have chosen for your business is available for registration in your state. The name you choose cannot be the same or deceptively similar to another LLC, corporation or other name registered in the state.

The Secretary of State that processes LLC, corporation and other legal entity formations will check to see if your chosen name is available for registration. If not, your filing will be rejected. So, as an initial matter you should make sure the business name you have chosen is available in your state.

2. To DBA (Doing Business AS) or Not

Second, if you are going to use a different name which is different from the official name, then you must register a DBA for your business.  It is also known as assumed name, a fictitious name, or a dba name depending on the stat.

If your business is doing business under another name, the other name should be properly registered. Each state and each locality in every state has specific rules when it comes to registering an assumed name so please check first with your locality for the details.

3. Trademark Registration

Third, many LLC, corporation or other businesses will have a name (known as a “mark”) that they use to promote the goods or services they are selling. This is called trademarks and it is governed by both federal trademark law and state trademark law. When it comes to using a mark to brand your products, you should seek the proper trademark advice to ensure you are not violating another’s trademarks.

Just because a business name is available for use as a name for an LLC, corporation or other business entity, does not mean that you can automatically use the name to market your products or services. You need to be sure your name is in compliance with trademark laws as well.

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