Question About A Business Name

Business By pumpkinroses Updated 26 Aug 2010 , 4:34pm by stacey71

pumpkinroses Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 9:37pm
post #1 of 22

Now that Michigan passed the Cottage Law, I would like to come up with a name but I'm a little confused and need some help.

I have come up with a few ideas, I check for availability in Michigan and they have been fine but when I Google the names there's other businesses out there with that name. One example Cakes by Nikki - simple and has my name but there is a website with that name, there is also a Facebook page with this name.

Do you just worry about the names in Michigan or do you have to worry about any of them out there?

I tell you, this is not easy!!

21 replies
jason_kraft Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 9:57pm
post #2 of 22

As long as you don't choose a name that's being used in your county, you should be OK. For the web site, you could change the address slightly to be something like "cakesbynikki-mi.com". Also make sure you don't use a color scheme or logo similar to existing businesses with your name.

Another alternative would be to add a descriptive qualifier to your business name, such as "Custom Cakes by Nikki" or "Amazing Cakes by Nikki", or go minimalist with something like "nikkiCake" or "NXX Cakes" (where NXX would be your initials).

Note that when you register your LLC, that is at the state level, so if someone in the state is using the same name you need to create the LLC under a different name. You can always file a d/b/a application for your original name, since that's at the county level. And BTW, don't forget about liability insurance.

pumpkinroses Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 11:26pm
post #3 of 22

Thanks so much for the information. This can be very confusing.

elainem51 Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 1:02am
post #4 of 22

May I ask what the "Cottage Law" is? And how do you find out if your state has that law? Thank you.
Good Luck with your business....

leily Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 1:43am
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

As long as you don't choose a name that's being used in your county, you should be OK.




I'm sorry but i find this to be bad advice. You also need to do a search of trademarked names in the US. (it's easy to do online) Just because Pepsi isn't in your county doesn't mean you can name your company that. Some businesses (even if they only do business in a 60 mile radius) have trademarked their name so that no one else can use it in the US. If you choose a name that is trademarked they could come after you at a later date and then you'd have to start all over with names.

pumpkinroses Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 1:46am
post #6 of 22

The cottage law in Michigan in a nut shell allows me to bake out of my home (unlicensed kitchen) as long as I label properly, list any possible allegens, deliver directly to a customer face to face and can not profit more than $15000 annually. For Michigan it can be found on the State website www.michigan.gov so I would recommend checking your states website first and search "cottage law".

HTH

jason_kraft Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 2:02am
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by leily

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

As long as you don't choose a name that's being used in your county, you should be OK.



I'm sorry but i find this to be bad advice. You also need to do a search of trademarked names in the US. (it's easy to do online) Just because Pepsi isn't in your county doesn't mean you can name your company that. Some businesses (even if they only do business in a 60 mile radius) have trademarked their name so that no one else can use it in the US. If you choose a name that is trademarked they could come after you at a later date and then you'd have to start all over with names.



That's a good point...definitely do a trademark search before you choose a business name. The same applies to naming your products.

Here's the US PTO trademark search engine:
http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=searchss&state=4010:mp1ktp.1.1

And a relevant story about bakeries and trademark "infringement":
http://www.wtop.com/?nid=111&sid=2024082

FYI, a trademark is only protected based on a specific scope of products and services offered. Since Pepsi is not in the retail bakery market, you would probably be OK legally opening a "Pepsi Bakery" as long as you were very careful not to leverage Pepsi's national brand, but of course it's better to avoid that can of worms if you can.

There are also limitations based on geographic scope, so if a bakery trademarks their name and does not have any plans of expanding near your market, you would be able to defend your use of their mark on those grounds.

BTW, thanks for specifically calling out that I gave bad advice instead of just correcting me. icon_wink.gif

Msjckson Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 2:59am
post #8 of 22

I actually just did a contest on FB and asked my friends to help me come up with a name. As an incentive, I offered a free cake to the winner. Nothing spectacular. A small 2 layer cake chocolate or yellow w/buttercream frosting. However, I didn't even mention flavor or size. Only that they would win a free cake. I ran the contest for 24 hours. I posted every couple of hours a message that said want to win a free cake? Help me come up with a name for my cake business. I received over 100 suggestions and making the final selection was not easy. It took me a couple of days to research websites and trademarks. Another thing that I did was I posted all of the names submitted on 1 thread, they were coming in via email, text, facebook inbox and being posted directly on my page. When I added the names to the thread with their name suggestion, I told them to get their friends that may not be my friend to like their suggestion. So this helped me in 2 ways. It was a free marketing tool by bringing people to my page and also made people who had not already seen pics/post of my cakes to my page. Now, of course you have to open your page up to everyone if you don't have a fan page. But it was so worth it. I got several orders just from doing this contest alone. Also, this was fun. People were threatening and disowning me (joking of course) if they didn't win. Someone even created a VIP club for me and placed their name on it and said that get a free cake..lol

After all of that, I narrowed it down to 6 suggestions (that was tough). Of those 6, I checked trademarked name at the USPTO website and also Godaddy.com for domain names. Of those 6 only 1 name was available... talk about frustrating! I ended up combining two of the names submitted. I offered those 4 runner ups a $10 off coupon for their first order with me (I contacted them privately). And the 2 names combined won the free cake.

Also, keep in mind that the USPTO only has names that have been specifically registered with them. Not everyone has to regester with them in order to be trademarked. Most places will do a search for you but they charge a fee, such as legalzoom.com. Trademarking is very serious. If you don't know the story about the TV show Cakeboss being ordered by a juge to change their name... look it up!

Hope this helps! Also, this was fun. People were threatening and disowning me (jokingly of course) if they didn't win. Someone even created a VIP club for me and placed their name on it and said that entitles them to a free cake..lol She was only 13 yrs old icon_lol.gif

DefyGravity Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 5:19am
post #9 of 22

I wanted to get a domain name, but cakesbylisa.com was taken, so I did www.cakesfromlisa.com and it was available (please don't look at it, haha, it's under construction!) I was able to get that Facebook name, as well.

Maybe you could do Cakes From Nikki instead of Cakes by Nikki?

I convinced myself that it seems more personal that way icon_smile.gif

pumpkinroses Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 10:03pm
post #10 of 22

Thanks for all the great advice. Sorry it's been a little while I didn't get any notices that there were other replies.

I don't plan on having a full business or even advertising but when I do a cake for friends or family, that I have to label, I would like a name associated with me and maybe then word of mouth would get me a few other orders. This is how the search started.

It's even funny because my husband's name is Chris and when I Googled Nikki's cakes, a website came up for Chris & Nikki's Cakes. It's funny that something as personal as this was even taken.

Doug Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 10:07pm
post #11 of 22

nikki's kikkin cakes

pumpkinroses Posted 20 Aug 2010 , 12:49am
post #12 of 22

I kinda like that Doug, thanks!

DetailsByDawn Posted 20 Aug 2010 , 3:28am
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug

nikki's kikkin cakes




I second that! But I think I'd spell it Nikki's Kikkin' Kakes!

The_Caketress Posted 20 Aug 2010 , 2:05pm
post #14 of 22

[quote="jasonkraft"]As long as you don't choose a name that's being used in your county, you should be OK. For the web site, you could change the address slightly to be something like "cakesbynikki-mi.com". Also make sure you don't use a color scheme or logo similar to existing businesses with your name.[quote]
Actually technically under any country's common law for trademark infringemant using a area after a trademarked brand presents like a franchise. Inwhich if a the original brand can charge retroactive for a franchise fee no matter what country you are in. Under trademark laws if you are aware of a prexisting brand name - or proof of it existing before yours - you are legally reponsible for any trademark laws you disobey. If there is a company out there with the name you want, pick another one. Let's say your businesss grows and you want your clients to find you through search engines you will never be found if there are similar names out there before yours and can be confusing if they go on another site with the same /similiar name.

jason_kraft Posted 20 Aug 2010 , 4:10pm
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lori_hutchcakes

Actually technically under any country's common law for trademark infringemant using a area after a trademarked brand presents like a franchise. Inwhich if a the original brand can charge retroactive for a franchise fee no matter what country you are in.



What's your source on this? Even common law trademarks are limited to the area of use.

Source: http://www.expertlaw.com/library/intellectual_property/trademark_law.html

scoutmamma Posted 20 Aug 2010 , 10:15pm
post #16 of 22

how about Kakes by Nikki, or just Nikki Kakes... when it comes to websites... i agree, finding a search engine for domain names is priceless. I will share an example of bad website getting the wrong message across....

Theres a nationally broadcast Radio personality, Delilah, she does a love songs and dedications show in the evenings... well, if you go to type in her name and and not spell it right, you get porn sites... if you spell it right, you get her official website... she has since bought out most of those names and they redirect you to her site, but for a couple of years, she had a tough time... so, choose carefully.

Best of luck with your business and make sure you share pics of your creations! HTH

pumpkinroses Posted 21 Aug 2010 , 1:26am
post #17 of 22

Thanks for the idea's scoutmamma. Those are both good names also. I will look into them.

adonisthegreek1 Posted 22 Aug 2010 , 7:50pm
post #18 of 22

I thought most states that licensed home bakers, simply made them put "produced in a home kitchen" on the label. Michigan makes you put "produced in a home kitchen not licensed by the Michigan Dept of Agriculture," in a different font size, type and color from the rest of the label. At least that's what I read last month. I think that disclaimer goes too fun.

adonisthegreek1 Posted 24 Aug 2010 , 12:20am
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by adonisthegreek1

I thought most states that licensed home bakers, simply made them put "produced in a home kitchen" on the label. Michigan makes you put "produced in a home kitchen not licensed by the Michigan Dept of Agriculture," in a different font size, type and color from the rest of the label. At least that's what I read last month. I think that disclaimer goes too fun.




Oops! I guess I couldn't type or proofread. I meant "goes too far."

sunsational Posted 24 Aug 2010 , 2:55pm
post #20 of 22

you can use any name as long as it not a traded or trademark name. You can do what called a ficticius name that how you can have say 3 Joe's Pizza in one neighborhood. Anyone can use the name. If you Trade the name then for example you can do one two thing you can allow Joe's Pizza 1 and 2 to use thye name but they have to pay you, or can write that your allowing them to use it

or they have to change the name altogether. Most places tend to do fictious name, depends on state laws and fees.

Butterpatty Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 4:20pm
post #21 of 22

I really like the sound of your screen name here. Maybe there is some sort of name that could come out of that?

stacey71 Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 4:34pm
post #22 of 22

For what its worth, I do own my own business. (not cake related). I was told that as long as no one else in my county has the name already I can use it. You have to file the name with your county recorders office and pay a fee. There are two other business's in my state with the same name as mine but since we are all in different counties, its okay. At least that is how it works in Illinois.

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