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Question added to topic Legal Basics For StartupsNovember 21, 2008

Can I trade under a business name that has already been registered?

A company on the other side of the country has registered its business under the same name I have been using. We will not interfere with each other's business because both are localized services and are hundreds of miles from each other. I know I can't register the name, too, but will I still be able to trade under the same name?
Company names are determined by the Secretary of State of your state. As long as there are no other businesses with the name you want to use in your state, and provide the name meets other criteria that your Secretary of State may have, you can use it.

You may use a trade name for your company – once again, registration and approval of the trade name rests with the Secretary of State. A local attorney familiar with corporate issues can help you work this out.

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq. is an award-winning New York City attorney, edutainer and author. Under her Ask The Business Lawyer brand, she reaches thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners with her legal services, professional speaking, information products, and LexAppeal weekly ezine. She also writes the Making It Legal blog.

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