Picking The Right Business Name
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Well to answer Juliet’s question, in the business world, a name can carry a lot of weight, and what a business owner names his or her business can carry legal consequences. A name may hold sentimental meaning to a business owner, and may also carry goodwill that a business owner can rely on if later selling the business.
In Florida, a business owner may pick a fictitious name under which to carry on business. A fictitious name is a name that is used in the business other than the legal name of a person. Registration is not required for the legal name of a person, and for corporations, limited liability companies, or limited partnership names. Note that there is a difference between registering a fictitious name and filing for incorporation with a business name. When a business is structured as a corporation or limited liability company, the state usually checks to ensure there isn’t another business conducting business under the same name.
The fictitious name can be registered in the fictitious name database maintained by the state. Registration is required in order to let the public know who is actually conducting business under the fictitious name. However, this registration does not provide protection for the business owner in terms of another person using the same name. If a person tries to register a business name that is already in use, the registration will still be accepted if all the statutory requirements for filing a fictitious name are met. Fictitious name registrations last for five years, at which point a business may seek a renewal.
A business owner can protect their business name and avoid being associated with another business that may have negative practices by protecting their own name. A business can seek protection for their business name through federal trademark protection if the name meets certain requirements. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of these, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark functions similarly to a trademark but to identify the source of services. Although seeking trademark protection for a business name may be more expensive, it also allows the business owner to protect its name by ensuring that no one else can conduct business under that name in a similar field and cause confusion to customers.
In choosing your business name, you have to make sure you are not using the name of another in an unauthorized manner. If you decide to use a name for your business without checking the fictitious name database, or to see if the name is protected by trademark laws, you can open yourself up to lawsuits.
Contact An Experienced North Miami Business Attorney
If you are a small business owner seeking to incorporate or set up your business under another legal structure, consult an experienced business law attorney to ensure that you have a solid plan in place. Contact a North Miami business law attorney at the Charlip Law Group L.C. for a consultation today.