The name used by a business may be descriptive of the enterprise or reflective of the individual forming the company. In some cases, an entrepreneur will have a great idea for a business name before issues such as financing and the choice of entity form are finalized. While some business names might not be at risk of being taken, others related to current trends might be vulnerable. Ohio allows for a business name to be reserved in advance of the company being established.
It is required that a business be registered with the Ohio Secretary of State, and filing the required registration forms will secure a business name. However, a name can also be reserved in advance of the business being formed. Name Reservation Form 534B is used to do so, and a $50 fee is required at the time of filing. This provides reservation of the name for 180 days. A renewal is possible as long as it is completed prior to the expiration of the original reservation.
The Secretary of State does not make decisions about the legality of an individual’s use of a specific business name. However, an attempt to use a name that is already reserved as a trade name is prohibited without the permission of that business. If the name is an infringement of this type, an applicant will be informed. It may be helpful to research in advance to verify whether a desired business name is available. The website for the Secretary of State offers this search option. It is also possible to call the Business Services Division to inquire about a proposed business name.
In preparing to start a business, the name selection process is one of many details that needs to be completed. Working with a business attorney may be helpful to ensure that all legal steps are taken to start on a firm foundation.
Source: Ohio Small Business Development Centers, “Starting Your Business In Ohio”, accessed on Jan. 16, 2015