Choosing A Business Name

 
by Lisa Fraley

There aren't any certain "formulas" for choosing a great name for your business. The name should relate to your business, be distinct from your competitors, something that is memorable and easy to pronounce and spell. It should also appeal to your target customers.

To help get your creative juices flowing try these ideas:

  • Surfing the internet/do web searches
  • Ask friends and family members for ideas
  • Read publications that are in the same trade line (clothing).
  • Make a list of the names you like most and then eliminate names until you're left with only one.

Here are some things to keep in mind while choosing a name for your business:

Trademark law prevents another business from using your business name or logo. It's best to use several different methods to search for unregistered trademarks.

A great place to get information about trademarks is the United States Patent & Trademark Office http://www.uspto.gov. A business can establish a trademark just by using it so along with going to the US patent & trademark site, also do a web search on your desired name.

Check with your county clerk's office to see whether your desired name is already on the list of fictitious/assumed business names in your county. Your county's list will contain names that you won't find in other databases. If the name you'd like to use for your business is listed on a local fictitious/assumed name register, you SHOULD NOT use it.

Here's a free resource for finding unregistered trademarks:
http://www.thomasregister.com. Thomas Register is a cross-industry database which includes thousands of trademarks and also service marks.

Try the Network Solutions website at http://www.networksolutions.com and key in different variations of the name you want to use. Domain names qualify as a trademark as long as the underlying website is used commercially.

Once you find out that your desired business name is available, you may want to register it as a trademark. Registering it can help prevent a competitor from using your name or a name that is likely to be confused with your business name. You can file online at The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Their Trademark Electronic Application system allows you to fill out a form, check it for completeness, and then submit the form directly to them over the internet. Here's their "Where Do I Start?" page http://www.uspto.gov/web/trademarks/workflow/start.htm
They also have a great FAQ page http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/tac/tmfaq.htm

You can also register your trademark on the state level.

Federal Registration of your business name as your trademark is not mandatory.

There is also software that can generate business names for you. Do a web search for business name generator software.

Also check with your lawyer or a legal office for more information on business names, trademarks, and servicemarks.


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