Selecting, Protecting and Using Business Names (Revisited)

The importance of business names…

Choosing a name for your business or practice is an important matter. In addition to marketing considerations, the selection, protection, and use of business names implicate legal issues entrepreneurs often overlook or misunderstand. Here are a few thoughts on the subject.

How to search the availability of NJ business names—FREE!

Searching the “availability” of names of business and professional entities in NJ is free and easy. Simply hop on the web and go to https://home/bgartenb/public_html.njportal.com/DOR/BusinessNameSearch/Search/Availability, enter the preferred name in the dialogue box, click search, and the results will appear.

CAUTION! The system searches for EXACT matches. So, when I searched “Barry Gartenberg”—the site reported that the Business Name “Barry Gartenberg” is available—notwithstanding the fact that my law practice was formed and exists in the name, “Barry F. Gartenberg, L.L.C.”  So, when I searched the name “Barry F. Gartenberg”—the site reported that the name was NOT available because the name “may be in conflict with another name that we have on file.”

Since a name is “available,” I can form the entity in that name, use the name, and prevent others from using the name… right?  NOT necessarily!

The mere fact that a name is “available” for forming a business entity or registering an alternate name for an existing business entity does not guarantee you will have the right to use the name or preclude others from using the name because state “acceptance” or “approval” in this context does not grant any proprietary right to the name. The proprietary right to use a business name and to preclude others from using a business name arise under trade name and trademark law. Thus, someone else may have a superior right to a name despite the fact that you successfully formed an entity in that name or registered the name as an alternate name for the entity.

Would you like more information?

Please feel free to contact me for more information about Selecting, Protecting & Using Business Names.

DISCLAIMER: This BLOG post is provided solely for the general interest of the reader. It is not legal advice or opinion. Legal advice and opinion are provided by the firm only upon engagement with respect to specific factual situations.