So You Want to Start a New Business

Part IV: Branding Your Idea: Arizona Corporation Commission and the Arizona Secretary of State

This month in our continuing series about starting a new business (Part I – March, 2016 Newsletter; Part II – Passion and a Business Plan; Part III – Branding Your Idea: Domain Name), I discuss dealing with the Arizona Corporation Commission (“ACC”) and the Arizona Secretary of State (“ASOS”). In Arizona, we can undertake a speedy name check through the ACC and ASOS websites to make sure the name you desire for your new business is available.

If available, you may reserve a name for 120 days with the ACC for $45 for expedited service during which you have time to prepare registration papers for your intended entity. Registering a company name with the ACC costs $60 + $35 expedited service for a corporation and $50 + $35 expedited service for a limited liability company (“LLC”). The expedited service fee for five to seven business day turn-around is worth it; without the expedited fee, the wait time can be between 30 to 60 days. Part of this process is the legal requirement to publish in a local newspaper the Articles of Organization for an LLC or Articles of Incorporation for a corporation to formally announce to the public the existence of your new company.

If after registering the name of your entity you decide the name is too long or not easy for the public to remember and want to shorten to a catchier name, you must prepare and record with the Arizona County Recorder in all Arizona counties in which it operates a short document generally titled “business entity operating under a fictitious name,” more commonly known as a “dba.” A legal action cannot be maintained by the business as a plaintiff or defendant if the official name has not been used in legal documents.

The filing of a trade name with the ASOS registers a business name for the public record of the first time the trade name and trademark is used in commerce. If the name is available, you can file a trade name with the ASOS for a $10 registration fee; a trademark can be registered for $15. The trade name filing lasts for five (5) years from the date of filing, and a trademark lasts for ten (10) years. Prior to the expiration of the trade name or trademark, you have six months to renew and extend that filing. If the filing is not timely renewed, you risk someone else registering the same trade name.

A trade name is similar to using a nickname for the entity (like “Coke” for Coca-Cola), which in the business world is known by the phrase “doing business as” or “dba.” A trademark registers a name (like Coca-Cola), logo or a slogan to be displayed on goods and services. Trademarks are also referred to as service marks. Registering a trademark in Arizona is not a substitute for a national filing with the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), which can be done through our office.

If there is a conflict in the business name after searching the ASOS or ACC websites, you should seek legal counsel. These are merely recording and filing agencies and are not authorized to resolve conflicts in the use of trade names. Next month, I’ll cover registering a trademark nationally with the USPTO.

Lat J. Celmins

Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only. Legal advice is provided only through a formal, written attorney/client agreement.