It’s All in the Name

You have a great idea for a new business. It’s kept you awake at night, thinking about the exciting new product you’re going to sell, or the extremely useful services you’re going to offer. You’re going to make the world a better place through your new business, and you get to be the one in charge!

But what are you going to call it?

When small business clients meet with me for the first time and I ask what the business will be called, I am met with a range of answers. Some clients respond with a surprising look on their face and say, “Oh yeah, I haven’t thought about that yet… Should I? What sounds good to you?”

Other clients have done quite a bit of thinking about this already. Maybe they have had the perfect business name they have been waiting to use all of their lives, or it came to them in a dream, and they are understandably, completely attached and fixated on using that name. “I have to use this name or I will die.”
Still others have a list of thoughtfully selected names to pick from, methodically chosen with the understanding that they may not be able to use their first or even fifth choice. The process for choosing a name can be as unique as the name itself.

Wherever my business clients fall on the name-choosing spectrum, my first line of advice is that we always have to check for name availability, and to try not to get attached to one name, as it may not be available. Checking the state business registry is a crucial first step.

Checking the national database on the US Patent and Trademark Office website is also another important piece. You don’t want to be in a situation where you have picked a name, registered your business with Oregon, created your own website, logo, letterhead, and put up a billboard, and then receive a “cease and desist” letter from a business in Oklahoma that claims you are infringing on their trademarked name, stop using it or else… And with our increasingly connected and digital world, this happens. More than you’d think.

So. The bottom line. Let us help you do the background work. Think of potential names, but don’t become too attached to one. Check social media, check Google, check the registries. And once you have your name selected? Protect it.

More on that in the next article…

Sarah Vaile is an associate attorney with the Law Office of Robert Good, specializing in estate planning and administration and business law, and has practiced law in Jackson County for eight years. Contact her at (541) 482-3763