There are many valuable components of a business, but one of the more overlooked assets in a company is the name. Not all forms of business names are the same though, and it is important to understand the difference between corporate names and trademarks.
A corporate name refers to the formal name chosen to register a business under with the state of incorporation (e.g. “Apple Auto Parts, Inc.”). While Texas law provides that a desired corporate name cannot be the same as or deceptively similar to the name of another business already registered with the State, this prohibition on using the same or similar name for registered entities is only meant to allow for a company to be identified by a singularly used name amongst other businesses. Because corporate names are dictated by state law, which varies from state to state, the exclusivity in Texas only applies to other registered entities in Texas and may not be applicable in other states. Further, many business owners incorrectly assume that their corporate name registration entitles them to unlimited rights to that name, and even worse, some business owners may erroneously rely on a corporate name as a basis for what amounts to trademark infringement.
Unlike corporate names, trademarks provide the exclusive use to a word, logo, phrase, or design that the trademark owner uses to identify its goods/services and distinguish them from competitor’s goods/services. Whereas corporate names simply give you the right to use a business name as a company designator, trademarks give you the right to stop others from using the name throughout the country (depending on the circumstances). Trademarks are also assets of the company, and they can be valued, licensed, or sold just like any other corporate asset.
While corporate names do provide a limited value to the company, it is important not to confuse these two classes of names. Just because your corporate name is “Apple Auto Parts, Inc.” does not mean that you may advertise and sell a product called “Apple Radio”, for use in automobiles. This would likely be trademark infringement, and it could cost you and your business. If you have a name worth protecting, do not rely on your corporate name alone. The Strong Firm P.C. understands the value in a name, and we can help you understand how to value yours.
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