When forming a new company, one of the first things many corporate formation specialists will do is determine whether the name is available with the corporate registrar of the intended state of incorporation. However, business specialists don’t always consider the potential trademark issues associated with corporate name selection. “Clearance” of a company name by a Department of State (or similar entity) only determines that there are no other corporations, partnerships, LLCs, unincorporated associations, businesses using fictitious names, etc. in the relevant state with exactly the same name. Note that: 1) there may be companies with the same or a similar name that are incorporated in other states but do business in the state in which the new company will operate, and 2) there may be businesses operating in the new company’s market whose trademark or service mark is similar to the new company’s name. If you are concerned that any of these other entities might object to use of the new company name, a trademark search should be performed before selecting a name for a new corporate entity.
[NOTE: Special thanks to my colleague Anne Newman of Pepper Hamilton for this valuable tip. ]