Business Formation-What’s in a name?
Sacramento Business Formation-What’s in a name?
Choosing a name for your business is one of the first steps in forming your business, and one of the most important. The name sets the stage for your branding. Is the name easy to remember? Consider the length of the name. For example, depending on your type of business, a shorter name may be cheaper. Fewer letters in the signage, stationary, labeling, and other printing may result in reduced costs. There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting your name. This post is to provide you with a few starting pointers.
Business Formation-What’s in a name? – Guidelines
Here are some guidelines and rules to help you on your way.
- Your name cannot be the same or too similar to an existing name.
- Your name cannot be considered misleading.
- For an extreme example, you can’t use the name Sacramento Cat Daycare when you’re actually based in Long Beach and your business is selling computers.
- You cannot use a name that is Trademarked with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
- You can search the USPTO trademark database on their website. I also enjoy the unofficial, but very user friendly, website Trademarkia.
When considering your name, you should review your long-term goals. Are you going to build an empire around this name? Will you eventually, or maybe immediately, want to trademark the name? Simply put, a trademarked name will provide your company with better protections.
There are five categories of trademarks: generic; descriptive; suggestive; arbitrary; and, fanciful.
Suggestive, arbitrary, and fanciful, are “deemed inherently distinctive and are automatically entitled to protection because they naturally serve to identify a particular source of a product.”1
Generic trademarks receive no protection because “they identify the product, rather than the product’s source.”2
Descriptive trademarks identify a product’s characteristic or quality of service in a manner that does not require any exercise of the imagination. Typically, descriptive trademarks are not protected by trademark laws; however, a descriptive trademark can obtain protection if the mark has acquired a “secondary meaning” in the minds of consumers within the market place.
When you have decided on a name, you can file a Name Availability Inquiry Letter. This inquiry is free and you can determine whether the name you selected is actually available. If your name is available, you can also reserve that name with a Name Reservation Request. Reserving a name will cost you $10.00, but your name will be held for 60 days and the cost is well worth the potential hassle of losing the name.
Contact Sacramento’s Business Attorneys
Contact Sacramento’s Business Attorneys if you would like to discuss forming a business entity or establishing trademark protections.
By: Trevor Carson Google+
*The information provided in this post does not constitute legal advice or opinion. The information is for guidance purposes only. Individual situations vary and you should contact us for a consultation. Image: KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Trademark law is a complicated area of law and this was merely a cursory overview of some aspects. Contact our Trademark Attorneys and Business Attorneys to Discuss Business Formation-What’s in a name?
1 Yellow Cab Co. of Sacramento v. Yellow Cab of Elk Grove, Inc., 419 F.3d 925, 927 (9th Cir. 2005) [hereinafter Yellow Cab]; Quiksilver, Inc. v. Kymsta Corp., 466 F.3d 749, 760 (9th Cir. 2006).
2 Yellow Cab, supra note 1 at 927; KP Permanent Make-Up, Inc. v. Lasting Impression I, Inc., 408 F.3d 596, 602 (9th Cir. 2005).