Question: I want to form a new limited liability company and protect its name in all fifty states. How do I do that?
Answer: Each of the fifty states regulates and authorizes the names of companies formed in the state. Company names are protected only in the state in which the company is formed. There is no way to protect a company name in all fifty states other than forming a company with the same name in every state in every state, but that would not be practical or prudent. Bottom line: There is no practical way to protect a company name in all fifty states unless you can register the name as a trademark or service mark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark office.
Federally Registered Trademarks & Service Marks
The U.S. allows people and companies to register a trademark or service mark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark office. A federally registered trademark or service mark is protected in all fifty states. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods.
Examples of trademarks and service marks include: brand names, slogans, and logos. The term “trademark” is often used in a general sense to refer to both trademarks and service marks. Use of a business name does not necessarily qualify as trademark use, though other use of a business name as the source of goods or services may qualify it as both a business name and a trademark or service mark.
Trademarks are territorial and must be filed in each country where protection is sought. A U.S. trademark does not afford protection in another country. For more information on how to apply for trademarks in a foreign country, contact the intellectual property office in that country directly.