Naming My LLC
In general, an LLC may use any permissible name that is not the same as or deceivingly similar to existing corporations, partnerships, limited partnerships, or other LLCs.
Depending on the state statute, certain words or abbreviations (e.g., “limited liability company”, “L.L.C.” are generally required to be included in the name of the LLC. In selecting a name for your LLC, be careful to include required language and avoid any prohibited language identified by the statute for the state in which the LLC is to be formed and the state in which the LLC is to operate.
If the LLC is allowed to perform professional services (e.g., legal, accounting, medical, etc.), then the LLC will usually required to include the words “Professional Limited Liability Company” or “Professional Company” or the abbreviations “PLLC,” or “PLC” in its name.
Some statutes prohibit the use of certain words in the name of the LLC that indicate or imply that the LLC is organized for a purpose other than the purpose stated in its Articles of Organization. The name may not contain words stating or implying the LLC is connected with a government agency and may not suggest a charitable or nonprofit nature. Statutes often prohibit the use of specific words such as “corporation”, “association,” “trust”. A statute may also prohibit a name that misrepresents the geographic location or origin of the LLC. The use of a prohibited name will not violate the existence of the LLC but the LLC may be blocked from using the name.
Prior to formation, a name can be reserved for a certain period of time by filing with the secretary of state or other governmental agency.
Like an individual or other business entity, an LLC may conduct business under a fictitious business name, assumed name, or DBA (short for "doing business as"). The LLC is only required to file and execute the proper paperwork as required in the particular state in which the LLC intends to conduct business. Typically this means filing a fictitious business name form with the county recorder or in some cases, with the secretary of state. In general, the process is quite simple: you perform a search through the county or state database to make sure the name is not already in use, then submit a simple form, along with the correct filing fee (anywhere from $10 to $50). Call your county clerk's office or the secretary of state to find out the local or state fees and procedures in your area.
An LLC can infringe upon the name of another business entity or vice versa. Once a trade name established a special significance, the courts either through common law trademark infringement or Federal Trademark law, will protect the trade name. In general, once a trade name establishes a special significance, the courts under common law trademark infringement will protect it. The issue is generally whether the infringement name is such as to cause confusion in the public mind with the protected name. The test is applied on a case-by-case basis, whether the public is likely to be deceived.