A business name is the name that a company registers with the county or state. This is the name that will be used for all legal documents, transactions, and business matters. Businesses are generally required to file with the state in order to operate legally; this includes filing the correct business name that will be associated with the organization.

The requirements for filing business names may vary according to state laws, and according to the type of organization that the company will be filing as. For example, the legal names of corporations must usually include the abbreviation “Inc.” or “INC” at the end of the name, to indicate that the business is a corporation. This may not be required for other types of business entities (such as partnerships).

Why Is a Business Name Required?

A business name is required mainly to distinguish the owner/operators of the business from the business entity itself. Businesses are regulated very differently from individuals when it comes to key legal issues like taxation, civil liability, and other areas of law.   

For some businesses like limited liability companies, the members of the business organization are generally shielded from civil lawsuits and cannot be held liable for the violations of the company. In such organizations, it’s very important that the business name be kept distinct from the individual activities of the members and owners. 

What If I Have a Dispute over a Business Name?

Disputes over business names can sometimes arise in the course of the company’s business operations. Some types of business name disputes can involve:

  • Filing for same name: Most recording offices won’t issue a business name if it’s already being used by another business. You may need to research local and state records to determine the availability of a business name before filing; this might require the help of a lawyer.
  • Unauthorized use: It can be a violation if one company uses another company’s name without their authorization. This is often the subject of many types of trademark lawsuits, as well as those lawsuits involving counterfeit goods.
  • Misleading names: Some business names can be misleading, meaning that they may cause the public to think that the product being marketed is associated with another brand. This is also a common source of trademark violation lawsuits.

Disputes over business names usually result in a damages award issued to the non-liable party. These are generally meant to reimburse the party for any economic losses they may have suffered from the improper or unauthorized use of a business name. 

In some cases, the court may require a company to stop using a certain business name. Therefore it’s very important to conduct some research and to understand some of the basic rules during the process of selecting a name for your business.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Business Name Issue?

Selecting the right business name is important for the success of your company. You may wish to speak with a qualified business lawyer in your area if you need assistance with the laws covering business names and other matters. Your attorney can help you conduct research to determine what your options are, and can also represent you in court if you have a legal dispute over a business name.