Name Patents

Many business owners mistakenly believe that they need to get a name patent. However, under U.S. ownership laws, it is impossible to patent a name because patents are issued for inventions, plants, and ornamental designs of goods, but not for names. If you want to protect your brand name, you need to trademark the name with the trademark registration service. However, even if you decide not to register your trademark, it will still be protected under both federal and common law.

Registering a Business Name with the State

When you file for a company to become an LLC or corporation, the office of the Secretary of State is going to confirm that the business name you proposed isn't already being used by another corporation registered with your state.

Every state possesses its own set of laws about how distinguishable a name must be from the names of other businesses. For example, in some states, it is permitted to name a business "Mandy's Flowers" if there is already a "Mandi's Florist" registered. On the other hand, some states will reject "Mandy's Flowers" as a proposed name. 

Once the application for registering your corporation or LLC is approved, the name of your business will be protected in the state. Another business owner will not be able to register a corporation or LLC with a name that is the same or similar within the state. However, a business that is a partnership or sole proprietorship will still be able to use your business's name in the state. The business simply won't be able to register as a corporation or LLC unless they change the name.

Keep in mind that registering the name of your business with the state doesn't have an impact on what occurs in the other 49 states. If you register your business as a corporation in New York, another business can use the same name in Connecticut or New Jersey. Another business owner can even form an LLC or a corporation with the same name in another state.

Depending on the model and the business type, it may be sufficient to gain brand protection just within your state. For example, if you want to open a local bar, it may not make much of a difference if another business in another state uses the same name. It would be very unlikely that a customer would confuse the two businesses.

However, if you hope to sell to customers across the country or you want to expand nationwide at some point, you should get a trademark to protect your name federally. Another reason you may want to get a trademark is to prevent a partnership from using your business's name.

How Do You Patent A Name?

There are many reasons why an individual or group may want to get a patent. Patents are most commonly used by bands, groups, or businesses that make a profit commercially.

However, patenting isn't typically regarded as a method to prevent others from using a name. Names are trademarked and not copyrighted or patented. Patents offer protection for ideas and inventions, while copyrights offer protection for works of art and images.

Anyone can use the trademark symbol (™) to trademark a name. However, a trademark that is registered uses the registered trademark symbol (®). A registered trademark refers to any trademark that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has approved.

Trademarks consist of phrases, designs, words, or symbols that have the purpose of distinguishing the source of service or products from that of other companies. Product laws, business names, and logos can all be subject to trademark law. Trademarks will give you the exclusive right to use a certain combination of words, designs, phrases, or symbols to identify your products, services, or business.

As a result, if you want to trademark a name, you need to be using the name for commercial purposes. You can also use a trademark to reserve a name for commercial use in the near future. This means that it is impossible to trademark a name that is only used for personal purposes. 

A name can only receive trademark protection if it is distinctive.

If you need help with name patents, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.