People who are either dealing with a company, starting a new venture, or running a business need to know what are business entity names, domain names, and trademarks and how to use them for increasing revenue. Each of these three terms has a unique purpose and core concepts and must be used adequately for establishing a successful business presence. Let’s understand this with an example. Apple Inc. is a business entity name denoting a legal entity, which in this particular case is a publicly-traded United States Corporation. ‘Apple.com’ is one of the many domain names owned by Apple. ‘Apple’ is the Registered Trademark of the technology giant with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). At the very first glance, all these three terms seem to be incredibly similar as they all incorporate the name ‘Apple.’ However, from a legal viewpoint, it is critical to bring up that each term is different as the legal rights associated with them differ extraordinarily.
BUSINESS ENTITY NAMES
When we apply for an entity name with the department of a particular state, we are registering that entity, organization, or publicly traded corporation to do business in that respective state. Some common types of business entities (but not exclusively limited to) include:
- Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
- Limited Partnerships
Limited Liability Companies can use ‘LLC’ to express the fact that their company is a limited liability company. A corporation is usually identified with ‘Inc.’ attached to its name. ‘LLP’ refers to Limited Liability Partnerships. The business entity names must be used in advertisements and business correspondence in the same way they are registered.
A domain name is in the form of .com, .org, .net, or other web addresses existing for people and companies to find your business online. While selecting a name for your business, you must also see whether its corresponding domain name is available or not. In many cases, someone else can also buy the same domain name with a different top-level domain name. For instance, if you own the domain name, ‘company-name.com,’ others may own ‘company-name.org’ or ‘company-name.net.’ The domain names have a centralized registration process. A domain name is only the name of your website and owning the same won’t give you any Trademark Rights.
Registered trademarks protect the symbols, phrases, logos, or names that distinguish the source of products and services of one party from another. Some of the most famous and widely recognized trademarks include Google, Rolex, and Vodafone, to name a few. If used lawfully and enforced positively, trademarks safeguard the brand’s entity by not letting any other person or company use the same without permission. In case, the trademark holder comes across a similar trademark, that may create a likelihood of confusion in the mind of a consumer, he can initiate legal proceedings against the allegedly infringing user in the court.
DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES
People often consider business entity names and domain names as the same since they aren’t aware of the unobtrusive contrasts. While a domain name only points to the online presence of a business, a business entity name, on the other hand, refers to the legal representation of a valid business. A domain name can be changed if required, but a business entity name usually stays the same. Trademarks are the exclusive form of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) that can prevent the unauthorized use of a brand by any other individual or entity. Though different, they are all confused with each other at some point or the other.