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If I open a business with a name that someone use to have for their business, will I be responsible for any debts they had?

Silver Spring, MD |

I was thinking about opening a business in Maryland. I saw the name is free and able to get but the previous owner lost the name due to not filing their property return a few years ago. If I was to register with that name, I would not be liable for anything that pertained to them just because I have the same name?

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Attorney answers 4


You and the prior business are different legal persons without any legal relationship.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


No, your new business would not be liable for a defunct business' debts based solely on use of the name. You should, however, consult with a lawyer to determine the best entity type for organizing your business.


No, because you are separate legal entities. However, you might want to see if the owner of that previous name has any intellectual property rights attached to that name which you must consider. If you need to purchase that name from a person who owns the intellectual rights to that name, it would be cheaper to buy the rights to that name before you start your business, rather than after you open your business and start making good money.

Office: (410) 381-1656. This is NOT legal advice, is GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY, and does NOT establish an Attorney/Client Relationship with you. Therefore my answer cannot address your specific legal situation and you should not rely upon my answer in your legal matter. I am an attorney licensed in Maryland and California. Office: (410) 381-1656. David Mahood, Esq.


Like my colleagues have said, the strict legal answer is No, you won't be accountable for liabilities incurred by that previous business. However, you should be prepared, and set aside some funds, for some legal challenges that may come as a result of reusing the business name. It will be relatively simple to overcome those challenges, but it will take time and likely some money. Be sure to carefully and fully document your purchase of the name.

This electronic communication does NOT create an attorney client relationship unless you have a signed representation agreement with this firm. This response should not be interpreted to be legal advice specific to your situation and should not be relied upon without further confidential discussion.

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