Protecting and Defending Your Business Name

Registering your name doesn’t give you the right to use it.

The law requires business owners to register a public record of assumed business names and entities such as corporations, but the authority to use the name comes only through asserting those rights through use and legal action.

Registering your name doesn’t imply you can legally use it. For example, you might be able to register “Starbucks Coffee and Tea” with the Corporation Division, but the real Starbucks could still sue you. Also, someone may register a business name that is like yours, but not exactly the same. That doesn’t suggest they have a right to use that name, it just means they’ve told the public they want to do business using that name.

Your right to your business name is mainly established by using the name in business, and is enforced by legal action – not by the Corporation Division. This may mean you’ll need to sue in court to stop the offender.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is very important to get the advice of an attorney. Consider what the loss of business and reputation will cost you if you don’t get proper advice. If you weigh the time and expense it will take to straighten out mix-ups with the other business against a visit or two to a lawyer, you’ll have a better idea of just how affordable a consultation might be.

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