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Choosing a Name for Your Business

There are several things to consider when choosing a legal name for your new business. For any unanswered questions, be sure to speak with one of our New Mexico business attorneys. The following is a discussion of several of the most frequently asked questions regarding the topic:

What is the best type of name for a business?

Business NameThere is no standard formula for choosing a name for a business, and every situation will be different. The name that will be best for your business will depend on several things, including the type of business, or your personal style and tastes. There are some general guidelines to follow which may help you get started. Any good business name should be one that is:

  • distinctive
  • memorable
  • easily pronounced and spelled
  • suggestive of the service or product offered by the business
  • distinguishing from your competitors

What do I need to think about when selecting a name for my business?

You will almost certainly spend a good amount of time thinking up a business name that will adequately represent both you and your product or service, and which at the same time increases your marketability and says a little something about your own personality. To aide you in this process, you might try browsing the internet, looking through a dictionary, reading magazines that specialize in the area of your business, and exchanging ideas with friends and family. As you embark on this journey, however, you should be aware of three important considerations regarding the law as it relates to naming your business.

  • Will you trademark your business name?
  • Is the name you’ve chosen even available, or is some other business already using it?
  • If you will set up a website for your business, is a domain name which is similar to your business name available, or is it already taken?

Additionally, if you are forming your business as a LLC or a limited partnership, there are certain state rules for naming a business with which you must comply.

How do I determine whether the business name I want is available?

To find out if the name you’d like for your business is available in that it is not already in use by another business, you’ll need to do a trademark search to make sure that name or a similar name is not trademarked. You would also be wise to consult with your county clerk’s office to determine whether the name is already on a list of businesses registered within your county. If you discover that your proposed name or a name very similar to it is in fact in use, or is a registered trademark, you’ll need to select a different one. Ignoring the existing business and going ahead and using the same or a similar name could lead to legal trouble down the road.

If your business will be organized as a LLC or limited partnership, you will also need to ensure that the name of your business is not the same as the name of some already-existing corporation, limited partnership, or corporation within your state. If the same or a similar name is already in use, you’ll need to select a different name.

So, what is a trademark?

A “trademark” is defined as any word, phrase, design, or symbol a business uses to market their products or services. To be technical, a trademark which is used to market a business’s service rather than a product is in appropriately called a “service mark,” but in general is referred to as a trademark as is a mark used to market a product. A trademark owner has rights under state and federal law, which give him or her the ability to prevent others from using a trademark which is the same or “confusingly similar.”

To be sure that you are not infringing on the trademark rights of another business owner with your proposed business name, a trademark search is necessary. A trademark search can be done online. Also, when you are selecting your business name, you should ensure that you are careful to choose a name that is likely to be eligible for trademark protection, and you should then take steps to protect the business name as a trademark.

What is the “legal name” of a business?

Your business’s legal name is the official name of the business or the entity who owns it. If you are the sole owner of the business, then the legal name of the business is simply your full name. If you are a partial owner of a general partnership and a written partnership agreement provides the name of the partnership, then that name is the legal name of the business. If there is no written partnership agreement, then the legal name of a general partnership is the last names of the business owners.

For LLCs, corporations, and limited partnerships, a business’s legal name is the name which is registered with the state at the time the business is formed and the necessary formation documents are filed.  This name will be necessary on all government applications and forms, and is of special importance when you apply for a federal employment identification number.  If you intend to use a different name when doing so, you will need to register the name you wish to use with a government agency.

Does my business name need to be registered?

Your business name will be registered automatically if you form a corporation, LLC, or limited partnership, when you file articles of incorporation, a statement of limited partnership, or articles of organization. If you intend to market or sell products or services under a different name however, you will need to file a “fictitious name statement” as well, in the state or county of your

Does my business name need to include something like “LLC” or “Inc.”?

Choosing a business name and choosing a business structure are two different things, which people often confuse. You cannot simply add on something like “LLC” or “Inc.” to your business name, implying that you are a LLC or a corporation, if your business is not in fact registered as a LLC or a corporation. If you do in fact register your business as a corporation or LLC by following certain filing requirements, then you may add some indication of what business form your business is to the business’s name. In fact, it is even required by some states that corporations and LLCs include some such indicator in the business name.