Choosing a Name for Your Franchise Company
The name selection process has greatly changed because of the influence of the Internet. We recommend the following steps when you establish a new name for your business. This is a simplified version of a full name search, but is something that you can do at no cost, and will help you in the name selection process.
1. Go to a web site like GoDaddy where you can search for available web names, called URLs. Search for an available web site URL that will work for you. Don’t purchase the URL yet, but make note of URLs that are available.
2. Search the entire country using an internet phone directory, like White Pages, to see if other businesses are already using the name. By putting possible names under “Business Search” and not listing a location, you can search all states at the same time.
3. Conduct a Google type search for the name to see what is being used on the Internet.
4. Search the database at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, for a general idea of whether or not the name may already be registered. Click on “Trademark” in the left column and conduct a name search. Remember that trademarks are “business category,” so the fact that someone has already registered your name, or the key word(s) of your proposed name, in a different industry, may not prevent you from registering your new business name. However, you want to eliminate as much confusion as possible, so it is better to submit a unique name.
5. Once you have selected a new business name, go back to a site where you can purchase URLs, like GoDaddy, and buy the .com, .info, .net, and .org versions of the name, to reduce confusion if others buy these variations of your name. (Be sure that the various versions of the name all “point” to your main web site, rather than to a generic “parked” page, which may actually contain names of your competitors!)
You may still find someone already using your name in one or more parts of the country. Keep in mind that it would be necessary to search corporate filings and service mark/trade mark filings in each of the 50 states to be certain the name is registered in one or more states, and not all states have this information on the Internet.
Some states may have additional ways to register a name. In California, for example, it is possible to register a name by county, as well as by state.
You should apply for a registered mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It takes about 10 to 12 months from the date of application until you receive registered mark status, and there can be no guarantee that you may be able to register any given name.
The more unique your business name is the easier it will be to register and protect it. Names that are made up of pieces of different words, like Syn-Food, Dynar, etc., may be easier to register. The pharmaceutical companies are very clever at assembling parts of existing words, along with some vowels and consonants, to form new and unique names for their drugs.
Note: An article in The Wall Street Journal on January 14, 2008, mentioned a practice called “front-running.” Front runners are people who purchase query information from internet name registration companies, quickly buy the URL addresses that have been searched by others, and then sell the addresses back to those originally interested in the names at a higher price.
Apparently this does not happen all the time, but it possibly could happen to you. In order to guard against the situation, once you start searching possible names, reach a conclusion and make your purchase as quickly as possible.
Good luck in the name selection process!