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I want to change the name of my WA State business without losing the legal establishment date from '05?

Maple Valley, WA |

I have a general contracting company based here in Washington State that I started back in November of 2005. We are changing our focus from handyman services to larger residential construction jobs. Along with a change of focus we would like to change the name of our entity. Can we change the name of our company with out losing the "official incorporation date" listed in the WA ST bureau of Labor and Industries data base. Or, is a DBA a more suitable idea? The main idea is that when potential customers research our company, we want them to see we have been doing business for a better half of a decade.

Thanks

Attorney Answers 5


  1. It's unclear if you've currently got a corporation or not. It's easy to amend your corporate Articles to effect a name change, and that won't change the date of incorporation.

    As for internet branding, 1st of all, your company's own website can note the change, for example, "Maple Valley Construction, formerly known as Maple Valley Handyman, established 2005."

    2nd, you can register a DBA with the new name with the former name doing business as the new name.

    3rd and 4th, "SEO" web search strategies and Google AdWords can also help draw customers to your new company name.

    5th, since you're branding your company, now's a good time to look into registering the name for a servicemark, assuming the name qualifies for federal TM protection.

    You can see an IP lawyer for help, and they can also help you look into what your state Bureau of Labor, state contractor's license board, etc. allows.

    Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.


  2. I agree with Ms. Koslyn's answer. There are only a few additional things to note. For the DBA, you can file it with the Washington State Department of Licensing (http://bls.dor.wa.gov/addtradenames.aspx) regardless if your business is a corporation or LLC. You should also consider filing a DBA with the City of Seattle (http://www.seattle.gov/rca/taxes/taxmain.htm) assuming you would be providing construction services in the greater Puget Sound area.

    As for branding, I agree that you should consider federal servicemark protection. Alternatively, you may also consider state servicemark registration if you do not have the funds for federal registration or if you mark does not qualify for federal protection. This is not an ideal alternative and it is always good to initially pursue federal protection, but state servicemark registration at least gives you some limited legal protection for your company name.

    Working with a qualified Washington state business and intellectual property attorney can further assist you with your corporate and trademark needs. Good luck!


  3. The specifics of your situation can best be answered in the face-to-face situation of a conference with a lawyer. Use the find a lawyer feature to locate one to help you. To give you a general answer to your question, you can file a name change that is retroactive to the date of incorporation. Thus you will keep your 2005 start date.

    The content of the this submission is intended to provide general information on the topic presented, and is offered with the understanding that the author is not rendering any legal or professional services or advice. This submission is not a substitute for legal advice. Should you require such services, retain competent legal counsel.


  4. In addition to the information provided by my colleagues, you need to aware that the Washington State Deptartment of Labor & Industries enforces statutes and regulations that control how general contractors can advertise -- one of which discusses the name under which the contractor may lawfully advertise [visit the link below]. Speak with your own Washington-licensed trademark attorney who will walk you through these rules that control how licensed, general contractors can name their companies and advertise. Good luck.

    The above response is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.


  5. Just use a combination name and then have two divisions. Then you can easily and truthfully say "Proudly serving Maple Valley since 2005" For example, "Maple Valley Handyman and Residential Construction" and then you could use "Handyman division" and "Residential Construction Division".

    You might want to set these up as subsidiaries if you want to isolate the liability within each division.

    See a Washington business attorney for this matter.

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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