I'm self employed. I sell goods online. I've ein number. I've ecommerce website. Do I have to keep my website domain name same as my personal name since I'm self employed or sole proprietor?
No such requirement. A domain name for the most part can be a marketing tool. On the other hand, trade names or DBAs needs to be registered like the original name. If the domain name will be used in contracts and agreements and to transact business it will be a trade name and need to be registered. Consult a business attorney if you need legal advice.
Your domain name can be different than your business name. Presumably, the website you put up on the domain name would be branded with your business name.
I am not your lawyer unless we enter into an engagement agreement in writing. This is general information that is given for legal education only. It is not legal advice, and it may not work for your specific situation. I strongly encourage you to consult with a local lawyer to get legal advice and help with your specific situation at your earliest convenience. I am licensed to practice law in Arizona.
As my colleagues note, no, your domain name does not have to be your personal name.
As a sole proprietor, YOU are your business. If you and your own attorney conclude that you should do business as a sole proprietor [note: that's very often NOT a wise decision] then you should brand your business with a "fictitious business name" and register it however your state requires. Some states have their country clerks register such names, some states have their Secretary of State do so. You need, however, to FIRST "clear the rights" to the name you select with your own intellectual property attorney. That attorney will also provide you with guidance on how to use the name both as a trade name and as a trademark and how to register the trademark with your state's Trademark Office and the federal Trademark Office. You should also create a portfolio of domain names that are confusingly similar to the trade name you select [doing so is quite inexpensive].
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.
No, you are not required to use your personal name as a domain, but if the domain is comprised of or is being used as a trademark, then you will want to make sure you first clear it properly before making an investment. Also and as noted setting up a simple liability shield like an LLC is always recommended.
Your trademark will be one of if not the most important and valuable business assets you will have and you will ultimately spend more money in support if it than you will anywhere else (advertising, marketing, PR, branding, packaging, etc.). So you owe it to your business and yourself to make sure you handle this properly upfront and the first order of business always starts with a proper and comprehensive clearance.
Whenever you endeavor into investing in a trademark it is very important that you conduct the proper clearance due diligence upfront and before you start spending any money in support of it or submit an application to the USPTO. In the US, this means searching under both federal (USPTO) as well as common law because trademark rights stem from use in this country NOT registration. This means that acquiring a federal registration does not necessarily mean that you are not infringing on another's intellectual property. See the link below for a brief article from Fox Business News on the importance of the due diligence process and our overview guide.
I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.
There is no requirement that you use your business name as your web-site domain name. But be careful. When you choose a name to "brand" and market your company (or your web-site), you are selecting a trademark. Trademarks identify the source of goods and services. Before using a trademark (whether as part of a domain name for a web-site or otherwise), it is critical for you to retain legal counsel to conduct a trademark clearance analysis---you need to know whether you are free to use that brand name without violating trademark rights owned by others.
In addition. the law forbids you from misleading the public as to the source of the products which you sell on your web-site. Even as a sole proprietor, you must have appropriate state and local licenses. And the FTC and state authorities require that your web-site provide accurate contact information for you and your company so that consumers or other interested parties can pursue claims against you if appropriate.
Further, you have an absolute obligation under current law to make sure that all goods that you sell on-line are authentic. If you sell counterfeit goods on line, you can face liability for counterfeiting (civil or criminal) even if you had no actual knowledge that the goods you are selling are counterfeit.
Finally, I must question your decision to operate as a sole proprietor rather than to form a corporation. This makes no economic or legal sense. There are many advantages for you if you form a corporation to run this business. You need to promptly retain corporate (business) and intellectual property law counsel before moving forward with this business. You probably will want to retain a law firm which has lawyers with expertise in several different specialties, such as corporate law and intellectual property. Operating this web-site without laying the proper legal foundation is a recipe for disaster.
I am not your lawyer and this is not intended to be legal advice on which you rely. My answer is merely intended to assist you in understanding some of the issues that you face so that you can make an intelligent choice when you hire legal counsel.
No, you can use any name or pudendum, as long as you are not infringing other's rights. You may want to consult an experienced trademark attorney about protecting your brand, which might be your website name.
Mr. Sack's postings on Avvo are of a general nature, based on the facts provided and are not intended to be taken as legal advice or to establish an attorney-client relationship.
To summarize, and as indicated by most of the commenting attorneys, there is no requirement that you use any particular domain name, and there is no requirement that it be your name. And, as you've seen, most attorneys commenting have indicated that you may need a trademark, or to conduct a trademark search. This is because even if you purchase a domain name, or even if you have incorporated or formed an LLC, or filed a DBA, the name you use is not necessarily protected. In order to ensure that your company or brand name is protected, and can't be taken by another business, you need to file for a registered trademark. If you have not yet decided on a business or domain name, you should make sure that the name(s) you are considering are not protected by someone else's registered trademark as well. Now, more than ever, this can have a drastic effect on your business. For example, if you use twitter as a social media aspect of your marketing campaign, someone who has trademarked your business name can easily take away your twitter handle. You may also be exposed to monetary damages for using another person's registered trademark. This process can be done quickly by an attorney.
This answer is not intended to be, and is not, legal advice. It is to provide general information only. Do not rely on this answer for any legal or tax issue that you are presented with. Do not take any action or omit from taking any action based on the content of this answer. Contact a qualified attorney and/or accountant. By reading this answer, no attorney client relationship is created. and express or implied warranty of any kind is provided. This is for informational and advertising purposes only. I and my firm do not intend to represent any person or entity in a state where this website or blog violate the laws, regulations or state bar rules of where such person or entity is located.
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