OK...I'm really not sure what to do. I had my business name picked out months ago. Searched the Secretary of States database and found that no one is using my name in the state. So, I reserved it with the state until I'm ready to file my Articles of Organization for my LLC. I even googled my business name and found only one business with my name...it was in Singapore, so no worries there. Last night, I googled the name again, and I found some lady in Maine who has the same exact business name. She's running the business from home, just like I will be. What do I do? Do I just pretend I didn't see that and move forward with my plans or do I pick another name?? I'm in love with my business name so I hate to do this! I need some good advice on this, I'm just not sure what to do. I don't want to put myself or my business at risk by using a business name already in use. Does it even matter?? Please help!
AIf the name is already trademarked, choose another name. Otherwise you should be fine.
If you are planning on selling nationally (e.g. selling wholesale to national retailers or offering shipped products) you should trademark the name yourself.
Since you are in another state it should be fine.
Although I will say that there is another Cakes by Cathy in another state across the country from me and I occasionally get emails meant for her. I usually just send them a quick reply that they have the wrong decorator.
I'm wondering if it makes a difference that you're doing an LLC. I made my business an LLC but chose not to put put "LLC" at the end. Maybe you can add LLC to the end of your name and then you won't have the same name. Would that work? That could totally be a dumb idea but thought I'd throw it out there :)
Original message sent by SaltCakeCity
I'm wondering if it makes a difference that you're doing an LLC. I made my business an LLC but chose not to put put "LLC" at the end.
Thank you all for the great input! Jason, I will check and see if the name is trademarked. I'll sit down tonight and check it out... Cathy, that's what I've been thinking. Since I'm in another state and not doing business "nationally" it shouldn't be a big deal, right?
Salt Cake City, I will put LLC at the end of the business name. I know the other business does not seem to be an LLC.
I did check with the state that the other business owner lives in and the business name is not registered with the state. That should be beneficial to me, right?
AFictitious business names (other than LLCs) are typically registered with counties, not states. If she is in another state it doesn't really make a difference whether or not she's registered, the biggest issue is the trademark.
My bakery used a relatively common dba name that was not trademarked but was already in use by several other counties in-state, but not the county we were doing business in. There were no issues aside from a few misdirected emails.
My business name is A Cake To Remember LLC and there are tons of other A Cake To Remembers. Nobody should be able to register that name in my state, but in other states, and other countries, sure. It's unlikely that someone would trademark a name unless it was so unusual you COULD get a trademark. Think about how many cake and catering business have the words "custom" and "creative" in their names...it's hard to find a new name unless you use your actual name in it. Even then, you could run into the Cakes by Cathy situation.
If you try to trademark a name and someone else has already been using it there's pretty much no way your claim of a trademark could hold up in court if you did try to get them to stop using it. They could just show that they'd been operating under the name before you came along, so there's really no point.
I'd just go ahead and use the name that you like as long as there's nobody else in your state that has it. Unless the other person you found HAS trademarked it, you should be fine.
The same thing happened to me! But there was a domain name taken for it, but no website. I went into the whois for it and saw it expired in a week, so I watched it carefully, then it went to auction, and sold for $370, WAY more than I was willing to pay, so I stuck THE in front of it, and it works well. 3 years later, the website is still not set up, just "parked". lmao! I am glad they got their monies worth...
Now there are 3 people on Facebook with my name. 1 in London, one in Ohio, and one in Florida. All 3 have some seriously amateur cakes, I did have one person who entered my contest on a different Facebook page, but they weren't local, and just entered it for a family member (before I wrote the contest winnings were non transferable.)
As much as I would want to be the only one, and it makes me crazy that there are more cropping up, it works for me, and I can't do anything about it....
Well, I feel much better now about just going ahead and using my business name. I'm not going to worry about there being a business in another state with the same name. I checked on trademarks and there aren't any for the name. Thanks for all of the good advice!
You know...this starting a new business is a lot of work! I knew it would be, there are just so many details! Can you believe some one asked me the other day, "Why is it taking you so long to get your business up and running?"! I think my mouth fell open...
People have no idea!