This May Be A Stupid Question About Owning My Business' Name

Business By KellyJo3 Updated 12 Jul 2011 , 1:52pm by costumeczar

KellyJo3 Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:25pm
post #1 of 13

I thought once I registered my business name as a DBA that I owned the name for it. Is there a way I can find out if I own the name or not because I noticed on facebook there is another business with the name, but it is in the UK I believe. Also if registering for a DBA does not give you ownership of a name, what do I do to own it? Thanks for anyone's help.

12 replies
RussellsCakes Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:38pm
post #2 of 13

Contact The secretary of state for the state you live in. In Texas, they have an online system where you can do a search and see if the name you want is available. Most of the time you will get someone who is extremely helpful and knowledgeable if you call your Secretary of State. They will guide you and help you.

Kitagrl Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:48pm
post #3 of 13

I made the mistake of naming my business with my name...unfortunately, there are several other businesses in the area with the same (or similar) name! thumbsdown.gif

I used my name before I knew it was bad to bake unlicensed (was just doing a cake or two per month) and once I got licensed, I just figured I'd keep it the same. I probably should have changed it to something unique. Oh well.

jason_kraft Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:53pm
post #4 of 13

In most areas you register your DBA with the county, that means you own that business name within your county only. If you want to legally own your name in the US, you would need to register a trademark with the US PTO, this typically costs several hundred dollars or more. Even then you would not own the name in the UK unless you also applied for the equivalent of trademark protection there as well.

Owning a trademark is relatively easy, but enforcing it is another matter. It will be quite expensive in terms of legal fees if you want to go after other companies with your trademarked name, so you need to weigh the benefits of doing so against the costs, which might influence your decision to file for a trademark in the first place.

KellyJo3 Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 12:46am
post #5 of 13

Thank you everyone! As long as I own it in my county, I think I'll be ok with that. I appreciate all of our input. : )

costumeczar Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 2:49am
post #6 of 13

Also, if you trademark a name that someone else has been using before you did, it probably would be thrown out if you did end up in court over it. If they can show that they had a track record of using the business name before you came along it's unlikely that you'd be able to force them to stop using it.

LindaF144a Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 1:37am
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Also, if you trademark a name that someone else has been using before you did, it probably would be thrown out if you did end up in court over it. If they can show that they had a track record of using the business name before you came along it's unlikely that you'd be able to force them to stop using it.




This information is correct. I just spent some time with a trademark lawyer and this is just what she said. For those times when you do hear of people changing their business name it is either because they are uninformed or would prefer to no spend the legal fees.

I think this may depend on your state. Here in NY I think I heard that it is not just my county, but the state also. I could be wrong though. I hired my lawyer to do this filing for me and left it all up to her.

hollyml Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 9:36pm
post #8 of 13

Actually, even filing/recording your "fictitious business name" (DBA) in the county may not mean that you "own" the name in that county -- although that filing it can serve as evidence that you had the name first, if there is ever a dispute with another business over the rights to it. But you can go down to the county office and file your dba as "Mickey Mouse" or "Disney Princesses Bakery" if you want. Disney will sue you if they discover it, but you can file it. icon_smile.gif

What the county filing is actually meant to do, typically, is to protect the public/consumers -- if someone wants to sue you, they can look up that filing to see who the "real person" is behind the dba. (If you are an LLC or corporation, using the company name, then you don't file a DBA. Same thing; the stuff you have to file with the state when you form the entity provides consumers with a method of serving you with a lawsuit. The state office usually has rules preventing more than one company organizing with the same name, but the specifics of what "similar" names are allowed vary from state to state.)

A trademark is what you need if you want to claim ownership of the name. The fictitious business name statement is something you're required to do, legally, but it doesn't do much to protect YOU; it's to protect your customers. Most businesses comply because their bank requires a copy in order to open an account for the business, and/or they need it for a state professional license or something of the sort.

At any rate that's my understanding of how it works in my own state. You'd have to talk to a business lawyer in your own state to get reliable advice on your own situation. icon_smile.gif

Holly

bonniebakes Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 10:39pm
post #9 of 13

interesting... I actually have an LLC. I have been thinking about filing a DBA under that LLC for another area of the business, because I want to keep them separate in terms of accounting but not filing a completely separate new company.

I looked at the state assessment & taxation website and have the form - it says $25, and the form looks simple enough to complete. But then I was reading about it on the internet and legalzoom charges $99. Now I'm wondering if I've missed something and that's not the right form. Does anyone know?...

Cakeuhlicious Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 11:11pm
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by bonniebakes

I looked at the state assessment & taxation website and have the form - it says $25, and the form looks simple enough to complete. But then I was reading about it on the internet and legalzoom charges $99.




Its probably just their fees. thumbsdown.gif

costumeczar Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 11:03am
post #11 of 13

That's probably legalzoom's fees, but it would probably be worth it to make sure it's done the right way. Still cheaper than hiring a lawyer to do it.

LindaF144a Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 11:33am
post #12 of 13

I know legal fees are expensive, but it is worth it to at least talk to them once. I have a S corp. We have two different companies that are DBAs under the Scorp. We actually did just so we could file one tax form for all the companies rather than having to file for every different company.

It varies from state to state that is why it is best to talk to a tax attorney in your state. For example, even though Hollyml says filing a DBA does not mean you actually own your company name, this is not true for my state and my county. Where I live they do a search. If that exact name is already taken you cannot file another DBA in the same name, so in an essence you actually own that name in that county. However, a lawyer would definitely redefine the word "own" as we know it. I do know that I do not have to worry about another business opening a store or business under the same name here in my county. And that is why you file a DBA. She is right that you could probably register "Disney" if you wanted. As long as no one else in your county has done that, go ahead. But rest assured that a bigger giant will come after you because it is another level of the law involved. But register say "Diane's cakes" and it should be that you will be able to own that in the county you registered so that no other person could open "Diane's Cakes" five miles down the road and make people think they are a part of your company. That is the reason why DBAs are done in the first place. That and the fact that every part of a business is a valuable opportunity for your government to get some money from you.

Maybe it is just me, I am paranoid when it comes to the power of the government. I want everything done by the book. So I paid the extra for a lawyer. Don't go to just any lawyer. Find one that specializes in helping small businesses. Whatever you do, do NOT rely on just the information you get here and on the internet, even the government sites. It is a very poor defense come time to face the IRS or any other government entity that feels you have not satisfied things to the law.

costumeczar Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 1:52pm
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaF144a

Whatever you do, do NOT rely on just the information you get here and on the internet, even the government sites. .




That might be the best advice I've ever read on this site icon_wink.gif

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