Choosing a Name
Choosing a business name is another important decision to make when creating a new business. Most people think about the product or service they will be providing, but it’s important to consider legal aspects of choosing a business name.
An important distinction to understand is the difference between the legal name of your business and the name you will use when conducting business.
Fictitious or Doing Business As (DBA) Name
The name you use in general commerce is often referred to as your Fictitious name or DBA (Doing Business As) name. You can think of this as the name you would put on the signage of a storefront. Kansas does not have a law requiring you to register your DBA name.
Business Entity Name
If you choose to create an entity that is legally separate from the individuals who own or operate the business, you will need to form a business entity. A business entity name is simply that, a name, a way to identify a business entity. A business entity is legally a “person” under the law. It’s important to understand that the business entity name may or may not be the same name as your Fictitious/DBA name.
Kansas law requires that all business entity names must be “distinguishable on the record”. In other words, the name must be different enough from other names on file with the Secretary of State’s office that one entity can be identified from the other. It’s important to understand that Kansas law doesn’t preclude the name of one business entity from being “deceptively similar” from another entity. The “name availability guidelines” clarify that distinction.
Remember, the creation of a legal entity is a method to separate an individual person from the individuals who own the entity. Just because someone can give their business entity a name that is deceptively similar to the name of your business entity, doesn’t mean they have a right to advertise or hold themselves out to the public with that name. Issues such as trademark name may limit the use of the name you select for your business entity.
Check Name Availability/Reserve a Name
You should not begin using a business name until you are certain that it is available for use. A business name is not available if it is already being used by an existing business on file with the Office of the Kansas Secretary of State.
Once you have an idea of what name you want for your business, you may check to see if it is already taken by performing a name availability search.
A name may also be reserved to ensure availability. A name reservation is not required and is effective for 120 days from the date of filing.Check Name Availability/Name Reservation | Register Business | Business Entity Search
Trademark/Service Mark Registration
A trademark or service mark is more than a name. A trademark is intellectual property. A trademark means any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, used by a person to identify and distinguish the goods of such person. This includes distinguishing unique products from those manufactured or sold by others. It also indicates the source of the goods, even if that source is unknown.
A trademark grants the owner the right to prohibit all other businesses in the state from using a similar name, or mark, on related goods or services. If someone begins using a registered trademark, the owner of that name has the right to sue immediately in court and force that company to stop using the mark immediately, and without compensation.
Trademarks and service marks may be filed at either the state or federal level. A mark registered in the state does not protect the use of that name in another state. A federal trademark protects the name from use anywhere in the United States.