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You have just recieved a cease and desist letter from a company that has your same business name, and they want you to change your name in each and every instance that you use it. Can they do that?

Keep reading to learn how you can avoid this potentially costly dilemma. 

When Should I Register to Do Business in Another State?

Any time you do business in a state outside of your home state, you should register to do business in that other state. Is it always required? No. But, that all depends on what type of business you're doing and in which state. The paperwork itself is relatively straightforward as you only need to be in good standing in your home state, but each state varies in its policies and filing requirements, so it's always best to touch base with your attorney.

What is a d/b/a and When Do I Register It?

Naming your business is an essential aspect of the branding process. Once you have your company officially organized with the Secretary of State you should consider creating a d/b/a, or "Doing Business As" name. This is a name that you'll adversite with and that most people will know your company by. It's important if you use a different company name for any reason, other than the legal name. Registering your d/b/a is done with the Secretary of State's office and depending on the state, could also require county clerk filings or publication in a local newspaper. 

How Do Secretary of State Filings Affect my Trade Name?

Say you have a cleaning business named "Steve Smith's Cleaning Service, LLC" and filed with the state under that name; but you've been operating for many years under the name "Steve's Spic-n-Span" and haven't registered that name with the state as a d/b/a. "Steve's Spic-n-Span" is listed on your company vehicle, in your local TV and newspaper ads, your business cards, as a sponsor to a local golf tournament etc. Out of the blue you get a cease and desist letter from a company located on the other side of the state demanding you stop using the name "Steve's Spic-n-Span" or they will sue you. They say you're using their name and taking business away from them. Can they do that? If the other company has registered the name "Steve's Spic-n-Span", they can. As a result, you have to change your advertising, including your website, company vehicles, TV and newspaper ads, business cards, and anything else you've used.

For more information about how you can protect your brand, your trade name and your business contact a Sioux City lawyer, Sioux Falls attorney, or Omaha lawyer today. 

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