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How close is too close for a business name?

You're forming a new business. You already have an idea for a name, and you know that it's important to register it properly so that no one else can use it.

Then you find out that there's another company with a very similar name. How close is too close?

To be approved, it has to be determined that your name is not so close to the other company's name that it's deceptively similar. The names are intended to be unique, and you can't infringe on someone else's intellectual property in an effort to take business from them.

For instance, perhaps you're considering naming your company "Joe's Appliance Warehouse." Another company is already operating as "Joe's Appliance Shop." That could confuse consumers.

This is simply an example, but it can apply to all types of businesses and industries. If you're operating in the same industry, your name has to be sufficiently different from the competition. There is sometimes more leeway for non-competing companies.

Even when you're not trying to bend the rules, you must adhere to the regulations. Perhaps you didn't know that "Joe's Appliance Shop" already existed and you never meant to steal their customers. You were just naming the store after your father. Still, you could be denied even without intent.

In many ways, though, these rules actually help you. You need a unique brand and a name that stands ou, or you could just as easily lose business to the competition.

Registering your company name and filing all of the proper paperwork can be time-consuming and complicated, but it must be done properly. Be sure you know what steps to take.

Source: Entrepreneur, "A Business Name vs. a Trademark: Do You Know the Difference?," Nellie Akalp, accessed July 20, 2017

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