Filing your business name with the state (corporations and LLCs) or county (partnerships and sole proprietorships) where you do business is one of the first steps in launching new business. However, registering the entity does not provide a business legal protection or with the exclusive right to use the name. Additionally, a simple search of your state’s trade name database is not sufficient to clear your name for trademark use. Registering a business name that is the same as or confusingly similar to a registered trademark constitutes trademark infringement. It is the trademark registration that provides the rights in the business name or brand, not the registration of its entity name.
Why? There are 50 states. Registering a corporation or limited liability company in a state ensures that no two business entities in that state have the same name. However, that name can be used in the other 49 states if no one else has registered a business entity with that same name. Further, using a term for a business entity name does not necessarily mean that the business’ products or services will be branded under that term.
The takeaway here is that you cannot rely on domain names or registered trade names for brand protection. You need to register your marks to secure the protection you are looking for.