Do you want to protect your brand from being stolen but lack the money to trademark it? If YES, here are 5 smart ways to protect a business name without a trademark.
The name you choose to do business with is very important. It helps people identify your brand, and also helps you build a reputation for yourself that is uniquely different from those of your competitors.
However sometimes, a competitor can choose to set up their own business with your business name whether knowingly or unknowingly. This can create a lot of confusion for your customers and business associates, and may also cause your business reputation to suffer should any of the people using your business name commit any crime or do anything that affects the reputation of their business.
The best way to protect your business name is to register it as a trademark, but registering a trademark can be sometimes expensive or complicated. You may still have to register a trademark in the future but in the meantime, you can take the following steps to protect your business name:
5 Smart Ways to Protect your Business Name Without a Trademark
1. Register Your Domain Name and Website: Once a name is taken on the internet, nobody can take it again so the first thing you should do is to register a domain name. It costs about $10 or less to register a domain name for a year.
However, you may have to register your business name on multiple platforms otherwise it can still be taken over by other people. For instance, you may have registered your business as .com but other people can still use the same name to register a .co , .biz, .gov , .net, .info, and so on.
To fully protect your business, it helps to register your business on as many platforms as you can afford so that no one can ever register a similar website name.
2. Register Social Media Accounts in Your Name: Another way to make your chosen business name unattractive to other people is to create social media pages for your business in that name.
Social media is crucial to the success of businesses these days and most people can hardly do without social media accounts.
One of the checks that people do before choosing business names is to check if the name is still available on social media. If you have already gone ahead to use the name to create social media pages for your business, it would naturally become unattractive to other people because they cannot use the name for their social media accounts.
3. Register the Business in Your State: You can also consider registering your business as a limited liability or a corporation in your state. This approach may not be cheap but at least it is not as expensive as a legal battle that you may get dragged into should any complications arise from other people trading with your business name.
When you register your business name in your state, it becomes a legal entity and no other business will be allowed to use the name.
Also, the state has a database of business names in the state so they would usually conduct an initial search to ascertain that no one else has taken the name before allowing you to take the name. This helps in cases where you are the one who is unknowingly taking up a business name that another person has already chosen.
4. File a ‘Doing Business As’ (DBA): If your business is a sole proprietorship or a partnership, you can register a fictitious business name for trading.
Some states and localities do not make it compulsory for sole proprietors to register a business name that is separate from their personal names but in order to protect your business, you can register a DBA so that people can identify the name with your business, and other people can be discouraged from taking up the name.
5. Register on Business Directories: Another helpful tactic is to register your business name on known business directories such as the Yellow Pages, YELP, and other business directories. This helps more people to identify the name with your brand, and also makes it less attractive to other people.
Above all, offer good services to your customers and make your brand very popular. Once people identify your business name with a certain brand, it becomes difficult for other people to choose the name for themselves.