How to Name Your Iowa Business
The first step in naming your Iowa business is to make sure it is available for use. This requires a little homework. You need to make sure you are not infringing someone else’s business name.
To stay out of trouble you should first see if the name is available through the Iowa Secretary of State’s Web site. You can perform a search of a database containing the names of all the registered corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) registered for business in Iowa. Another option is calling the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office at 515-281-5204 to see if your name is available.
The next step is to make sure your business name is not registered as a trademark. It is possible for businesses to trademark their names in Iowa but a federally registered trademark offers more protection for the owner. In order to check the federally registered trademarks you can perform a free search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web site. Conducting a search this way is not always complete so you may want to consider contacting an Iowa trademark attorney or a company which specializes in trademark searches. Another great way to protect yourself is to conduct a Web search of Google, MSN, Yahoo or other search engine to find out if a business shows up with the same name. You better be careful and consult an Iowa trademark attorney if you intend to use the same name as someone else.
Why is a trademark so important? If you choose a business name that is too similar to a competitor’s name, you might find yourself accused of "infringing" a trademark owner’s rights. The trademark owner then may be able to force you to change your business name and also receive money damages from you.