The Law and Your Business

State/Local Laws That Affect New Business

What's in a Name?

Here are a few steps that will help you avoid hard-hitting letters from somebody else's lawyer or being forced to trash signs and stationery you can no longer use.

Do Some Research. There's no point in launching a business and finding out too late that someone nearby is using the same name, or one that's very similar. The best way to avoid this is to do an informal search. Look in the telephone books in your area and in business directories. You can also check with the county or city clerk in your area, or your state’s secretary of state. These officials maintain a list of business names that have been filed.

Register Your Name. If you plan to do business under your name—and your full, legal name—then you may not need to register your business name with the authorities.

However, if you plan to use a business name that has no part of your name ("Comet Cafe") or only a part of it ("Cory's Creations") then you need to file what's known as a fictitious business name, assumed business name, or doing business as (DBA) name with the clerk in your county or city and your state’s secretary of state.

>>What's in a Name?
>>Will registering my business name locally get me a trademark?
>>What licenses will I need?
>>How about permits?
>>Which businesses face more regulation?


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