Choosing a company name requires some thought, and perhaps some advice from an attorney who specializes in trademark and intellectual property law. Getting advice before getting your business cards printed up just may eliminate legal problems down the line.

Five Tips on Naming Your Company

Choosing a company name can be fun. Here are a few tips from marketing experts.

  1. Say the name out loud. Is it easy to pronounce? Remember, the name will be heard, so it should be easy to say.
  2. Define a benefit in your company name. A company called “Pete’s Complete Lawn Service” indicates that the company provides a range of lawn care services.
  3. Avoid initials. Even if your name is Robert A. Smith, RAS Electric is boring. No one knows what RAS stands for except Robert A. Smith, his family and friends.
  4. Create a company name that’s specific. Xeroaire Computer Software is a more specific name than Xeroaire Enterprises. Tell people what your company does in the company name.
  5. If your business is Internet-based, conduct a search of proposed names using Google®, Namechk.com and whois.com to determine if an online company name is available.

Legal Aspects of Choosing a Company Name

Make sure you can get a trademark on the name you want. Depending on the type of trademark you need, the cost of registering runs between $275 and $325 – a small price to pay for trademark protection.

During an interview with intellectual property attorney F. Christopher Austin from the Las Vegas firm of Weide & Miller, Austin explained the basics of choosing a company name that can be protected from the competition.

Austin stated, “If you select a generic name, like Sandy’s Flower Shop or Little Shop on the Corner, that name cannot likely be protected by a trademark because it’s too generic.”

A company can obtain a trademark through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO.gov) website. Austin recommends, “It’s best to register at the federal level with the USPTO. If you register at the state level, like many new companies do, you may encounter a problem if a national company with the same, or similar, name moves into your service area.”

Austin also recommends that start-up owners “do a little research to make sure possible company names aren’t being used by another company.” Websites, like USPTO.gov and Trademarkia.com®, offer search options to determine if a proposed company name might infringe on the trademark of another business.

Austin also turned his attention to tag lines – those short, catchy phrases used by businesses after the company name. “Be sure you don’t confuse your name or tag line with another business. Your name might be different,” Austin explained, “but your company slogan or tag line may be similar enough for another company to take legal action.”

Whatever you decide to call your new venture, take some time to do the research to protect your company name, and to protect your new company from potential lawsuits in the future.

For more information on helping to protect your company name and other aspects of your branding, please view a webinar with Chris Austin called  Insights: Key Elements of Intellectual Property. It is available at no charge at nevadasmallbusiness.com under the “Business Webinars” tab.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.