Small Business Reading Room

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What's in a Name? Hard work

When you come up with a name you are happy with for your corporation or LLC, you will want to protect it, as I said in an earlier post.. But more than anything else, you will want to use it in commerce.

Finding a name to use for your entity can be a trying process. But, Delaware Intercorp, Inc. is here to help. We can clear and reserve your chosen name for you online, and if you ask for it, we would gladly help you look over some alternatives in the Delaware Division of Corporations Database. When we look into the system, we can see all the names that are taken and some that were taken in the past and have since been abandoned.

Abandonment on the Division database means the company using the name in question went void for one reason or another and no longer exists. Abandonment is more incentive to check thoroughly into any trademark problems, not less.

If your chosen name is not available, there are a variety of ways to modify the name to make it work. The Division of Corporations uses a literal database with exclusions. Simply adding an "S" to make a plural of one word in your name may make the system accept your name. The name you use must be distinguishable on the database, that is all. The State of Delaware does not reject sound alike or look alike names. Remember that these rules are significantly different from the trademark rules.

You can usually find a descriptive or fluff word to add to your name to distinguish it on the database. If you chose Dragonfly, Inc. - and that name is taken - you could add a descriptive word like "publishers" for a printing company. Perhaps Dragonfly Publishers, Inc. is available.

If you use initials in your name, consider expanding all or some of them in your name. Or, you may consider using initials instead of whole words.

Some common suggestions that do NOT work are adding "The" and changing the corporate identifier. The State ignores use of the word "the" in entity names. So "The Delaware Company" is the same on the database as, "Delaware Company".

Another frequent suggestion is to use a different identifier, Corp, for Inc. or Corp. for Corporation. The State considers all identifiers to be equivalent. So Corporation, equals, Corp., Company, Co., Ltd. et cetera. In the end, even "The Delaware Company" equals "Delaware Inc." so both of those names could not exist on the database at the same time.

The name you use for your corporation will be the name that must be on any official contracts and corporate documents. Remember that before you chose a name that is a mile long. This is becoming a worldwide problem as outlined here. But please feel free to call and talk to one of our incorporators about your naming issues. We are here to help.


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Delaware Intercorp, Inc.
113 Barksdale Professional center
Newark, DE 19711-3258

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