Business Incorporation – Naming Your Company

If you're planning business incorporation, one of the tasks ahead of you is the naming of your company. Your first thought may be that this is a simple matter and that you can simply make your selection. While you can call your company anything you want, the official name once you enter into business incorporation must meet some very specific guidelines.

One of those rules is that you can't name your business something that's already taken. Corporate names are somewhat like trademarks. Once a company has laid claim to a business incorporation name, no other company can take that name. Not only is the name protected so that another company can't take that same name, other companies can't take names that are significantly similar to a corporate name that's already in use. If you think that's not really fair, consider the time and money a business will typically invest to ensure that they have name recognition. If a particular company makes that investment to gain that name recognition, it wouldn't be fair for another company to give themselves a similar name and play off that investment.

As a general rule, a business that's seeking incorporation must select a name that has three or more words. The last word of a corporate name is the legal part and it will be the description of the company's legal status. That means the last word of the name of a company entering into business incorporation will be "Incorporated," or "Inc." If the company is seeking limited liability corporation status, the last word will be "L.L.C." Don't underestimate the benefits of having that word at the end of your company's title.

The word just before "Inc." or "L.L.C." must be a descriptive word. This is where clearly identifying your business prior to seeking business incorporation will help. This word will sum up the main thrust of your business, though sometimes without being too specific. For example, if you have trucks and move heavy machinery from place to place, this word might be "trucking" or "transportation" or some variation of those words. The law doesn't require that you say "heavy equipment transport."

The first word(s) in your business incorporation name are called the "distinctive" element. This might be a name or some word or phrase that you hope will catch the attention of potential customers. In the case of the trucking company, this might be where you include the words "heavy machinery" or name the company after the financial backer, "Uncle Joe." The main requirement here is that you can't use a name already in use, or that is very similar to an established corporation.

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