Do I need to use “LLC” in my business name?
So, you pick out the perfect name for your business, and then you go to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (WI DFI), and register it as a limited liability company, and realize, you’re required to stick that “LLC” at the end of your perfect business name. The same is true if you register as a corporation, an s-corporation, a partnership or any other type of entity.
But, do you need to use that entity designation all the time???
The name that you designate for your business is the actual official name of your business. For example, our business name is “Kramer, Elkins & Watt, LLC,” not “Kramer, Elkins & Watt.” Upon registration of the entity name, the name is reserved for the exclusive use of the registrant. So, our law firm has the exclusive right to use the name, “Kramer, Elkins & Watt, LLC.” Using “Kramer, Elkins & Watt” instead of “Kramer, Elkins & Watt, LLC” could cause issues and confusion in any circumstance where the official name is needed, in particular, legal and tax documents. In addition, the failure to use the entity designation, in our case,“LLC,” at the end might signify to the public that we have not registered our entity.
A logo is an image that is associated with your business, and the purpose is to create something so that your business is recognizable. A logo can be anything and does not need to have your company name, an entity designation or even any words included
The only requirement for a logo is that it does not infringe on the rights of any other individual or entity. For example, if you try and use the Nike swoosh, or anything resembling that symbol for your new running shoes business, Nike is going to come knocking on your door with a trademark infringement suit, and they would win, handily, meaning you would be out of business fast with a hefty fine to pay. Check out KEW’s posts, “The Unicorn Cat,” and “‘Disparaging’ Trademark Seekers, Rejoice” for more information about infringement.
Instead of using a logo that is similar to something you have seen, come up with a creative idea on your own for a logo that represents your business, and you can happily move forward with selling running shoes, or whatever type of business you choose to create, well into the future. If you need some creative ideas as to what your logo should look like, head on over to Tingalls Graphic Design for some help.
A website, and the domain name direct the public to the space where you speak about your company. Must you use the entity designation in your domain name? Wisconsin law does not impose any requirements on what must be included in a domain name, and in fact, it is perfectly legal to have a domain name that does not mention the name of the company at all, let alone the entity designation.Take our domain name, for example, kewlaw.com. The official name of our business is “Kramer, Elkins & Watt, LLC,” and it is not reflected in our domain name.
Use of other names
Wisconsin entity registration does not allow an entity to register and then have a “doing business as” or “DBA” name along with it. Instead, an entity may file an application to register and use a trade name. It is important to note that ownership and rights of a trade name are gained through usage, not through registration. This is because intellectual property protections are grounded in protection from unfair competition.
Trade name registration can be done on the WI DFI website, accessible by clicking here. Trade name registration is a good option for a business that really does not want to use entity designation ever, and instead wants to exclusively use a business name without any designation.
Contact Leslie Elkins, Jessica M. Kramer, or Nicholas C. Watt at Kramer, Elkins & Watt, LLC for more information regarding use of entity designation in your business name.