Suppose you decide you would like to change the name of your business or due to the sale of your business assets (including your tradenames, trademarks and brand names) you now need to change your business name. There are right and wrong ways to do so.
It is likely you have created consumer brand awareness around your current name, have a website and social media accounts with your company’s name, and have likely filed all corporate documents under a name you now want, or need, to change.
Changing the name of your business can be a very tedious and risky process. While you may believe it is as simple as “we are now changing our name to…”, there are many legal and business obstacles to overcome before you can effect a name change.
Before changing your business name, make sure to go through the following steps:
Check Domain Names & Trademarks
Before doing anything regarding the name of your business, it is important to see if someone else is already using it. By performing a simple online search, you may be able to tell right away whether someone else is already using the name you want to choose. Also, go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website at uspto.gov and perform a quick search of the name you are interested in.
If no one has federally registered the name as a trademark or using it as a domain name, you should claim it right away!
Contact the Secretary of State
Regardless of what state you are located in, it is necessary to contact the Secretary of State’s office to amend your articles of incorporation with the new name. Most states make this process very simple, allowing business owners to submit an online form with the new information. You can perform a quick search on most state’s Corporations Database to see if the name is already in use.
File new “Doing Business As” Form
If you business name includes a “Doing Business As” or DBA certificate with your local city or town, you will need to terminate it and file a new certificate with the new business name.
Amend Business Licenses, Permits, Business Documents, Contracts, Deeds, Leases, Operative Documents and other Agreements to reflect the Name Change
If you have business licenses, contracts, agreements, leases, operating agreement, partnership agreement, real property, UCC filings, permits (or other key documents in the existing business name) you may need to update all of these! Some states may charge a small filing fee to change the name on licenses and permits.
Contact the IRS
Along with the Secretary of State, it is important to let the IRS know about the new name of your business. Depending on the type of business, there are different steps that need to be taken. For example, if you are in a partnership 0r corporation, you can let the IRS know on your income tax return. However, if you are a sole proprietor or single member LLC, send the IRS a letter informing them that you will be changing the name of your business. There may also be a form required for your specific business type.
Also, each state has a different policy regarding notification to State and Local revenue agencies regarding the name change. Check with the state your business is located in regarding these issues.
If you need to change the name of your business, and you require advice regarding this process, please contact the Business Law and Business Litigation Attorneys at The Jacobs Law LLC at 1-800-652-4783 or email CONTACTUS@TheJacobsLaw.com