From the Nolo eCommerce Center
Here’s how to choose a legal business name that will qualify for trademark protection and help identify your company’s products and services.

There’s a lot of room for personal and professional creativity when choosing a business name, but there are three main considerations to keep in mind:

  • Will your business name receive trademark protection?
  • Is your proposed business name available?
  • If your business will have a website, is a similar domain name available?

Will Your Business Name Receive Trademark Protection?

If your business name is entitled to protection, trademark law will prevent another business from using a name or logo that is likely to be confused with your business name. If your business is anything but a small, local service business or retailer, such as a dry cleaners or a fabric store, you’ll probably want to take advantage of this.

Trademarks Help Companies Market Products and Services

 Allowing businesses to have exclusive use of their names helps consumers identify and recognize goods in the marketplace. For instance, when you buy Racafrax brand of wood glue, you’ll know that it will be similar in quality to the Racafrax glue you bought last time. By contrast, if any company were allowed to call their glue “Racafrax Glue,” you would never know what you were getting. By allowing just one company to use a name like Racafrax, trademark law helps that company to build customer trust and goodwill.

Any business name you use to market and identify your products or services is a trademark. For example, McDonald’s uses its business name to market its hamburgers. But to qualify for trademark protection, your business name should be what trademark law considers “distinctive.”