The following is a general company name checklist to employ when selecting a trademark for your partnership, limited liability company, corporation, joint venture or non profit organization. Company names are the most widely used type of trade name. company names can achieve great value and symbolize substantial good will. Courts have recognized the protectibility of this interest, and the need to protect the general public from confusion.
Generally, the Secretary of State in the state the company is registered is the government entity that approves the company name. Approval means the company name is distinguishable from the name of any other company that is authorized to do business in that state. This approval does not create any substantive rights in the company name. Only actual use of the name in commerce can establish protectible rights that can then be asserted against third parties and establishes priority rights. However, approval to use a company name in a state does not reveal any conflicting, similar, or identical business names in interstate commerce. A search from a state employee to find a conflicting company name within the state will not reveal conflicts with other companies or federal trademarks in that state or other states. Thus, it is not recommended to rely solely on a state approval to use a company name in that state as an assurance that there will either be no legal challenges to the use of the company name or that you will be immune from such a challenge.
Company names are not eligible for trademark registration; however, if the name is used as a trademark, company names are allowed registration under the same principles as other trademarks. In order for registration, it must be determined that the trademark is not solely being used as a company name. The following list provides some general guidelines that could increase the chances of a company name being registrable as a federal trademark with the USPTO: