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Do I need to register or trademark the name of my business?

Part of the Buzgate / SME Toolkit Learning Series

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If you are doing business under any name but your own, you are required to register with the Secretary of State. This requirement enables people to identify who is operating a particular business. For information on how to register your name and to access registration forms, visit your state’s Secretary of State Office Web site by doing a Google search for your state name and Secretary of State Office. The Web site will also provide a phone number and physical address, as well as forms on line. Some states will also permit you to complete the registration application on line.

For assistance with registering your name using a cost-effective, efficient, online service that works directly with your Secretary of State’s office, visit Small Business Registrations and Filings to learn more.

Registering your business name is not the same as securing a trademark for your business name. A trademark is a form of intellectual property that provides you with rights about how your business name may be used. Trademarks may also be obtained for specific words, phrases, logos, symbols, designs, images or a combination of these elements.

Similar to registering your business name, you may conduct a trademark search to learn if your business name has been trademarked by someone else.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office , also referred to as USPTO, offers a free screening tool within a Trademark Electronic Business Center to assist with determining if your business name has already been trademarked.

A trademark is denoted by the trademark symbol, which is ™, or alternatively by the federal registration symbol, which is ® , if an actual registration filing has been approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Focus Points
1. Contact your Secretary of State’s office by doing a
    Google search for your state name and Secretary
    of State Office, or
2. Small Business Registrations and Filings
3. United States Patent and Trademark Office
4. Trademark Electronic Business Center

SME Small Business Learning Series

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