When starting up a new business, it’s important to do an expansive search to see whether the business name you seek is also available as a corporate name within your state, as a domain name (URL website), and as trademark in the industry or “classification of business” in which you plan to conduct business as a product or a service. The more expansive the search the better to prevent the possibility of trademark infringement from another business based on federal or state registration or under common law. A business obtains common law trademark protection by simply having a product or service in commerce in the geographic areas they serve — before another received federal or state registration.

Ownership of the business name and the domain name also enhance the strength of your trademark in commerce by further creating an understanding the source of the product and service and with creating a secondary meaning by the customer.

The selection of the name, itself, is extremely critical as it relates to what names that can be trademarked. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rarely allows a descriptive trademark, such as “guitar” for a guitar manufacturer or “water” for a water company. It’s best to use a fanciful name or made-up word like Kodak or Exxon; or even an arbitrary name, such as Apple for a computer. Once this name generate a secondary meaning to the customer, it becomes very strong and, potentially, very valuable assets of the business.