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BUSINESS RESOURCE CENTER
Here are some tips to help you pick, register, and protect your business name.
Factors to Consider When Naming Your Business
Many businesses start out as freelancers, solo operations, or partnerships. In these cases, it’s easy to fall back on your own name as your business name. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it does make it tougher to present a professional image and build brand awareness.
Here are some points to consider as you choose a name:
- How will your name look? – On the web, as part of a logo, on social media.
- What connotations does it evoke? – Is your name too corporate or not corporate enough? Does it reflect your business philosophy and culture? Does it appeal to your market?
- Is it unique? – Pick a name that hasn’t been claimed by others, online or offline. A quick web search and domain name search (more on this below) will alert you to any existing use.
Check for Trademarks
Trademark infringement can carry a high cost for your business. Before you pick a name, use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark search tool in the above tab, to see if a similar name, or variations of it, is trademarked.
If You Intend to Incorporate
If you intend to incorporate your business, you’ll need to contact your state filing office to check whether your intended business name has already been claimed and is in use. If you find a business operating under your proposed name, you may still be able to use it, provided your business and the existing business offer different goods/services or are located in different regions.
Pick a Name That is Web-Ready
In order to claim a website address or URL, your business name needs to be unique and available. It should also be rich in key words that reflect what your business does. To find out if your business name has been claimed online, do a simple web search to see if anyone is already using that name.
Claim Your Social Media Identity
It’s a good idea to claim your social media name early in the naming process – even if you are not sure which sites you intend to use. A name for your Facebook page can be set up and changed, but you can only claim a vanity URL or custom URL once you’ve got 25 fans or “likes.” This custom URL name must be unique, or un-claimed.
Register Your New Business Name
Registering a business name is a confusing area for new business owners. What does it mean and what are you required to do?
Registering your business name involves a process known as registering a “Doing Business As (DBA)” name or trade name. This process shouldn’t be confused with incorporation and it doesn’t provide trademark protection. Registering your “Doing Business As” name is simply the process of letting your state government know that you are doing business as a name other than your personal name or the legal name of your partnership or corporation. If you are operating under your own name, then you can skip the process.
You will register your DBA name/s with The State of Washington, during the process of business registration/licensure.
Apply for Trademark Protection
A trademark protects words, names, symbols, and logos that distinguish goods and services. Your name is one of your most valuable business assets, so it’s worth protecting. You can file for a trademark for less than $300.
You should check and see if your business name is already in use within the State of Washington, in the United States and globally over the internet. Begin by searching the Secretary of State web database below and proceed through the remaining tabs above.
Type in your business name and domain to check availability (yourbusinessname.com/.net/etc)
Search for trademarks already registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office.