Is there anything “new under the sun,” anymore? When it comes to originality in starting a business, everyone is “biting” off of each other in various ways, so it shouldn’t come as a shock to you that the name you want for your business is probably already taken.
When you discover this, it can be pretty devastating simply because you’ve had that name in your head for quite some time, you’ve already planned out how to market your business with that name, and you’ve even sketched out a logo that’s perfect for the name… Now, it’s back to the drawing board… Or is it?
According to entrepreneur.com, it’s possible for you to still use your beloved name as long as no one else in the state where your business will be operating has that name. But if that name is already taken, your Secretary of State won’t be able to permit duplication of the name.
The thing to understand is that business names are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis so if a business has the name you want, first, you’re more than likely going to have to give the name up. In that
A lot of times, people won’t think to check for this, which then leads to trademark issues, and that business could potentially try to sue you for trademark infringement.
That reason alone is why it’s a good idea to invest in business insurance in the very beginning phases of starting your business. Why? Because that’s when you’re going to make the most mistakes, and a lot of the times, those mistakes are quite costly.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you in naming your business. There are some measures you can take to protect your business name. Now, these measures won’t necessarily help you in getting a name you want that’s already been taken, but when you do come up with a name that’s all yours, here are the tips to follow to protect your business name.
What to Do to Protect Your Business Name
Trademark Your Business Name
It’s not a necessity to trademark your business name but it can certainly make a difference in having an original business name that no one else has. To be fair, everyone doesn’t always conduct searches on trademarks or even patents, but most people who do conduct these searches will see that the name has already been taken and brainstorms for another idea.
It would be in your best interest as well to conduct searches on your business name as well just to make sure that no one else has your name because if they do, you then have proof that you had the name first, and can then proceed with legal action if you want.
You would only want to do this if the company has the same name as you and operates in the same area as you, and is within the same industry… this would make them a direct competitor, and give you just cause to take legal action.
It would even be a smart business move to look into irrelevant branding to really give that shock factor of your business name having nothing to do with the actual products you’re selling. This will definitely add to your brand’s originality and lower your risk of someone else trying to use your business name.
Create a Large Social Media Presence
Social media is the home of copycats. It sometimes can be so hard to find a particular business simply because there are 10,000 copycat pages with the same name as your business. With social media, get your followers accustomed to your brand with regular posts, contests, and catchy hashtags that are distinct to your business. Doing this will ensure your followers are engaging with the real company.
Also, on social platforms like Instagram, your business can earn a verified badge to let your followers know that your brand’s page is indeed an authentic brand. But in order to earn that little blue badge, you first have to have enough followers to show that your brand is indeed verifiable by Instagram itself. And believe it or not, this can play a significant role in your customer acquisition vs customer retention.
Which Form of Action is Best?
As mentioned earlier, you have every right to take legal action against a business if they are using your business name when you had it first. But before you call your lawyer, look up the company and consider speaking with the business owner first.
The business owner probably has no clue that the business name is legally yours. Sometimes a simple phone call or email asking them to change their name because it’s already in use will do the trick. This will prevent you from having to go through a legal battle, and it will help the other business in not having to pay for damages that they were completely unaware of.
On the other hand, if a phone call or email doesn’t work, it may require you to seek the services of your lawyer to send that business a cease and desist letter to take of it. But for the sake of “entrepreneurial love,” contact the business yourself first before taking legal action.