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Choosing a Distinctive Business Name

Here are a few guidelines from nolo.com to use in your quest for a distinctive business name:

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According to nolo.com, if your business name is entitled to protection, trademark law will prevent another business from using a name or logo that could be confused with yours. Though any business name you choose is a trademark, to qualify for trademark protection, your name should be what trademark law considers "distinctive." Distinctive business names are both clever and memorable and receive protection under federal and state trademark law. Common or ordinary names (such as Bob’s Body Shop or Tom’s Towing) usually don’t. Likewise, geographical names are difficult to protect under trademark law.

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  1. Make your name memorable. A creative, distinctive name will not only be entitled to a high level of trademark protection, it’ll stick in the minds of your customers. Forgettable names are those of people, those that include geographic terms and names that literally describe a product or service. Remember, you want to distinguish yourself from your competitors.
  2. Your name should be appealing and easy to use. Choose a name that’s easy to spell and pronounce and that’s appealing to both eye and ear. Try to pick a catchy name that people will like to repeat. Make sure that any images or associations it evokes will suit your customer base.
  3. Avoid geographical names. Besides being easy to forget and difficult to protect under trademark law, a geographical name may no longer fit if your business expands its sales or service area. If you open Springfield Collision Specialists, for instance, will it be a problem if you want to open a second shop in downtown Chicago?
  4. Get feedback. Before you settle on a name, get feedback from potential customers, suppliers and others in your support network. They may come up with a downside to a potential name or suggest an improvement you haven’t thought of.

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