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Business Name Ordeal

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A little history: one day in junior high, I was reading a book in the library. There was a particular word which inspired a business name that I would like to register, now that it's been about 5 years and I'm finally 18. I live in Utah and I'm pretty sure I'll register it as a Sole Proprietor (also known as Doing Business As (DBA's)). The reason I want to do this is because I don't plan on this company becoming popular or anything and I'm trying to minimize costs. I just think it would be fun to own a little, super tiny company which I would use to release my games. Basically I'm not planning on making any money or having employees, I'm just planning on having some fun with this and seeing where it takes me. Now, I thought of the name about five years ago. There's a problem though. About a month ago, someone in Canada created a website that used my exact same name! The domain is exactly the one I wanted, and if they registered the name as a company, it would be exactly the same one I wanted. I know that it's just one person (or at most a couple of friends) because the website hasn't changed, it's only got one splash screen with no links, and the person who registered the domain name is also the adminstrative contact and techinical contact for the website. This should be to my advantage, seeing as I don't have to deal with something that is already established. It's just emerging. I've tried looking and I can't find any place that says he has actually registered the name as a company and everything. The Ontario, Canada business website wasn't helpful; I couldn't find any place to search for business name availability or see if it had been registered. Now for my question: Should I go ahead and register the business name and then attempt to purchase the domain from him? This is something I've always wanted to do. I just want to protect the name so others can't use it (assuming it hasn't already been registered; if it has, I guess I'm just screwed) and hopefully get ahold of that domain. I don't even know if I can protect the business name from someone in another country though. I'm totally new to the business aspect. Thanks in advance for any and all advice. P.S. I'm sorry I haven't actually said the name. I just really don't want him to stumble across this and then register it really quickly if he already hasn't. Feel free to ask any questions if I haven't been clear, and if you really must know the name, then I suppose it's in my best interest to just be open about it, though I'd rather avoid it if possible.

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Registering a DBA, C/S corp or even an LLC with a name does not secure that name for use, except for within your state of registration. If you want to truely register the name you need to file a federal trademark, and even this can still allow another company to have the same name if its in a differnt industry. Now as far as canada goes, I do not know as I believe this gets into international trademark law. I would suggest contacting a lawyer.

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You still have many options.

A few of those include:

* Contact the person and ask to buy the DNS name
* Acquire the .net, .org, or .other domain name
* Choose a different domain name based on that name, perhaps with a hyphen or other mark
* Choose a different business name entirely

As far as registering a company or DBA name, if you can't find any existing uses of the name, or similar names, or existing names already used in business, then you should be fine. It is fairly easy to find business names through Internet searches these days, and if you can't find their names on the Internet and online telephone and business directories, they probably either don't exist or aren't significant to be an issue for you.

You should also contact the other website owner and see if they have a company by that name.

(But as always contact a business lawyer before going into business. You can find local business lawyers for under $100 hour for basic business registration and legal discussions. If you've done your homework you probably only just want a lawyer to double-check everything and establish a relationship. )

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1. Good job on being very thorough. It's definitely refreshing, and you're taking a smart approach to this. So kudos.
2. Another thing you want make sure of is that the other website isn't in your industry or in an industry that is likely to cause confusion if you're both using the same name. If he's selling lunch meat, you should be fine. If it's an independent film studio, that could be a little tricker.

As for getting an attorney-- I'm naturally not going to be a traitor to my own kind, but you may also want to check out SCORE and SBA. They can provide some solid, practical advice about the best way to go about forming your business, and more to the point, they're free.

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@Zenroth: Both companies would have the same purpose. The name I had wanted to use was Tritium Studios, and the webiste is tritiumstudios.com. I'm not too concerned about people in my state using that name, seeing as the only person I've come across that has the same idea is in Ontario, Canada. I don't want to go through too much trouble, just because I wanted to do this for fun. It looks like there is a lot more work in securing a name than I thought there was, so if that website doesn't grow too much/dies then I'll just register it for my state, otherwise I'll just drop it.

@frob: Yes, I considered the .net version (it's available).

As both of you have suggested, I guess I'll contact a lawyer, but I won't do that until I actually have a use for the name Tritium Studios. I want to use the name, but it wouldn't become useful for a few more years, and I don't want to have to worry about all the legal issues right now since I'm so unprepared.

[edit]

Sorry madelelaw, I wasn't ignoring you, we just posted seconds before and after each other. Thanks, I am trying to be as thorough and legal as possible so I don't have road bumps later in life. Yes, like I said, the website is in exactly the same industry, unfortunately. I haven't heard of SCORE or SBA, so I'll check them out for sure. Thanks!

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Quote:
Original post by MikeTacular
The name I had wanted to use was Tritium Studios

Tritium.com is available and inexpensive.

But yeah, the fact that the other Tritium Studios is making games pretty much eliminates it for you.

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