Guest Post | Jul 28, 2022
Every limited liability company, as well as any other business form, starts with a name. No business can exist without a name, yet, the establishment of a corporation or an LLC imposes a bit tougher naming rules. The main question bothering entrepreneurs at the stage of business incorporation is whether two LLCs can have the same name(learn more about how to change your LLC name in the article by llc.services). A quick answer is that it’s possible. While your business name should be unique in the state of registration, the same name can be freely used by other businesses in other states. Yet, the naming process is still a bit more complicated than that. So, let’s dig deeper into it and find out when two companies can share the same name, how to name your LLC, and how LLC formation services could help in this concern.
Naming Rules for LLC Formation
Basically, the name of your LLC company can be nearly anything you want. You are the one to decide how you name your business and you are the one to invent a moniker for your future venture. Some businessmen follow the easiest path and name their companies after themselves, which also has certain benefits to it while others try to settle on some special and catchy name that will stand out from the crowd of other companies. Whatever your naming method is, there are still some guidelines to follow to create not only recognizable and memorable but also a legally acceptable business name:
- The ultimate requirement as we’ve already mentioned is that LLC formation name should be unique within the state, i.e. in no way similar to the existing business names already registered in the same state;
- Remember to add a business entity type identifier to your company name, that is “Limited Liability Company’, “Limited’, “Ltd.”, “LLC”, etc.;
- Steer clear from the wording that might cause some confusion or controversy about the legal form of your business. Such words as a bank, trust, corporation, insurance, and other notions related to regulatory or financial institutions cannot be used unless you have a separate permit for that;
- The name of your LLC company should bring some associations with your business activity, i.e give some hint on the industry or type of business your company is engaged in or the type of provided products and services.
Using the Same or Similar Name for Two LLCs
As stated above, in certain situations, two different companies can use one and the same business name:
- When LLC companies operate in different states there are no legal restrictions on using similar, alike, or even fully identical business names.
- When two business entities sharing the same name are engaged in totally different industries that don’t intersect or impact each other, which means those companies have a different target audience.
- When similarly named companies run their business on different geographic territories and their interests don’t clash in this concern.
- If present online, two businesses don’t look confusing or misleading for their customers and are fully distinguishable even bearing the same name.
Though these arguments sound clear, you might still need more detailed professional legal advice on this matter before choosing an already existing business name for your business incorporation.
Limitations on Using the Same Name for Two LLCs
Most often than not, it feels misleading when two companies share the same or similar moniker. Hence, before making that move at the business formation stage, you’d better think twice. Besides, there are some factors that make this choice not legally acceptable:
- When two LLCs provide different merchandise and services yet run their business within the same industry or field, thus being direct competitors.
- When the chosen name already belongs to a well-known brand, popular nationwide, no matter the industry.
- When the name you target is already trademarked.
How to Create a Unique Name for Your LLC Formation
State authorities put in place strict rules about the business name uniqueness within the state and will reject business incorporation if the chosen business name is already taken by some other LLC company. So, it will take you some time and effort to come up with a meaningful and catchy business name that will be unique.
Tips on Making Your LLC Name Unique
First of all, remember that articles, plurals, suffixes, punctuation marks, abbreviations, possessive forms, or some specific symbols won’t make your name unique. Instead, use a different approach since it often happens that even a minor change can make a business name unique in the eyes of the state bodies. And we have some helpful tips on that:
- Cut down full names to acronyms.
- Take meaningful words related to your business and mix their parts in combos. Some examples to get inspired are TripAdvisor, Netflix, etc.
- Look for synonyms and play around with keywords.
- Make use of foreign words that will make your LLC company name not only unique but also catchy and memorable.
- Combine the parts of your own name with the parts of words somehow describing your business.
- Get inspired with science, literature, and geography.
- Invent new spellings. With no grammar limits on business names, you can juggle with funny and extraordinary spellings of common words.
Do the Name Search
Once you invent a few name versions for your business formation, it’s advisable that you do the name search first. And we are talking not only about testing your chosen names through search engines available on official websites of regulatory state authorities. Don’t neglect to check the database of DBA names and domain names and make sure the name you want is not trademarked. Speaking of which, registering a trademark is one of the ways to get more protection for your business name since trademarked names are banned to be used in other states as well. This way, you can build a solid brand and shield it against infringement.
LLC Services to Help With Your Business Name Choice
Though the whole business formation process is pretty straightforward, many entrepreneurs and especially startuppers choose to delegate that task to attorneys or LLC services. While hiring an attorney is quite pricey, LLC formation services in different states are a more affordable alternative. They still provide professional service in business incorporation but won’t cost you an arm and a leg. These companies can be helpful in choosing a name for your business as well. LLC websites usually have a free name search tool available, not to mention a whole wealth of information on how to create and check the business name, which is normally in free access too. And the best LLC services make the name availability search a part of their LLC formation bundles.
Dmitriy Kondratiev, chief Editor of LLC.services, associate in Axon Partners.
Experienced lawyer (Intellectual Property, Patenting, Contract law, Labor Law, International Private Law).
Worked with IT-companies Webxloo (Delaware), Autoxloo (Florida), SCC (Delaware)
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