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Claiming Ownership of a Company Name

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#1 Cube_MEGA   Members   -  Reputation: 111

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Posted 25 July 2014 - 09:22 PM

Hello. I am currently working in a partnership video game developing team, and our group is close to beta release for our first game, however we have not claimed ownership to a company name in any fashion. The group consists of minors (under 18,) however assuming we have parent consent and assistance, how would we go about claiming a business name?

Alongside the business name, we need to claim the name of our game also.

 

I'm assuming these steps are necessary in order to ensure we keep both names, and protect ourselves from legal issues.

 

Thank you!

-Cube


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#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9601

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Posted 25 July 2014 - 10:15 PM

What country do you live in? USA?
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#3 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20363

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Posted 26 July 2014 - 01:27 AM

Assuming US law, there are several steps. Several of them are covered in the forum FAQ (go read) .

The most critical one is to get ownership rights figured out. This can be done through a collaboration agreement, rights assignment, or several other means. Read the FAQ for those.
Basically if there is not a single point of ownership then you need consent from every person for every decision. That gets very hard when somebody moves away or becomes inaccessible or unexpectedly dies or whatever. You will want to transfer the rights to either the project owner or to the business, which brings us to ...


The second critical one is to establish yourself as a business within your state and make sure the state gets their money. Government is serious about this one.

Depending on your age, either you or your parents need to file some paperwork and pay a small fee. One options is called a DBA license, or "Doing Business As" license, where the business name is just directly associated with a person. It can be pretty nasty when it comes time for taxes, so once you hit a pretty low threshold it is better to file as some form of corporation. Other options include LLC and S Corporations where the taxes and costs go to a business but are filed as an individual, or the less popular C corporation that requires more paperwork and often a higher fee. Fees vary by location and type of designation you want. A simple DBA around here is just $6 per year. In some states a C corporation is several hundred dollars. Often there will be both city and state taxes involved.

Establishing a legal business entity is very important. Governments get really angry when you don't pay taxes properly, with consequences that include jail time. They also get angry if they think your little collaboration is actually a business and people are actually employees, since the state usually gets a kickback for things like unemployment insurance and tax payments based on the number of employees you have.


You and your parents and probably the parents of a few others in your group should probably all get together and discuss it if you are serious about releasing it to the public. It takes some time and a little bit of money to file the forms. Often it is good to have a lawyer help look over the forms. But once everything is put together properly, you (the kids) and all of your parents can rest a little easier knowing everything is taken care of and they won't have the IRS knocking on their door.


With those in place, you can proceed to do quite a lot of things. You can register the domain name under the name of the business and the business owner. You can set up your web hosting, set up bank accounts, set up all the other things you will need. In each case be careful that they are named under the business. At that point, if your state approves the business name you are in business. Most people want to have a web site that matches the name, so be careful about your research for that, too.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#4 Cube_MEGA   Members   -  Reputation: 111

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Posted 26 July 2014 - 10:52 AM

Yes, I live and work in the USA.

 

I really appreciate your answer, however I am only concerned about the processes necessary in order to claim ownership of a company name, and a game title. We work in a partnership, rather than a sole proprietorship, and our group works as a non-profit business. I apologize for not explaining this earlier, however I will refer back to your information if I need it in the near future.

 

On the other hand, how would a non-profit partnership go about claiming ownership on a title, or name?

 

Thank you.


Edited by Cube_MEGA, 26 July 2014 - 10:53 AM.

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#5 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9601

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 07:34 AM

1. I am only concerned about the processes necessary in order to claim ownership of a company name, and a game title.  
2. On the other hand, how would a non-profit partnership go about claiming ownership on a title, or name?


1. It's called "trademark." Look it up, and check out www.uspto.gov
2. You trademark them the same as a for-profit partnership does.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#6 GoCatGo   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 1619

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:32 AM

The mix of trademarking all these names with claiming that you are a "non-profit partnership" confuses me.  I sense sadness.

 

Every link provided above gives useful information, but I think you need to take several steps back and consider what you are trying to accomplish.  Are you making/selling games?  Are you hiring staff (even as freelancers)?  Your intent seems unclear.

 

I formed my LLC by going to my local county office, getting the forms, paying some fees, filing them, and posting a DBA notice in some local papers.  I have a tax ID, bank accounts, and a license to do business.  My lawyer checked over my filing, but only charged me for 1/2 hour since there wasn't much to see.  This all took time and money, but it was relatively easy to do.


I don't even like games anymore.


#7 Cube_MEGA   Members   -  Reputation: 111

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 05:58 PM

 

1. I am only concerned about the processes necessary in order to claim ownership of a company name, and a game title.  
2. On the other hand, how would a non-profit partnership go about claiming ownership on a title, or name?


1. It's called "trademark." Look it up, and check out www.uspto.gov
2. You trademark them the same as a for-profit partnership does.

 

Thank you! I will check that out.


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#8 Cube_MEGA   Members   -  Reputation: 111

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 06:00 PM

The mix of trademarking all these names with claiming that you are a "non-profit partnership" confuses me.  I sense sadness.

 

Every link provided above gives useful information, but I think you need to take several steps back and consider what you are trying to accomplish.  Are you making/selling games?  Are you hiring staff (even as freelancers)?  Your intent seems unclear.

 

I formed my LLC by going to my local county office, getting the forms, paying some fees, filing them, and posting a DBA notice in some local papers.  I have a tax ID, bank accounts, and a license to do business.  My lawyer checked over my filing, but only charged me for 1/2 hour since there wasn't much to see.  This all took time and money, but it was relatively easy to do.

It's just my friend and I making a video game as a hobby, and we want to release the game to the public professionally.


Edited by Cube_MEGA, 28 July 2014 - 06:00 PM.

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