How to Name Your Texas LLC
If you are in the beginning stages of starting your own limited liability company (LLC), congrats! This is an exciting time.
Naming your LLC is one of the first steps in getting your business up and running. And while it may seem like a simple step, there’s actually more to naming an LLC than you might think.
What Are the LLC Name Requirements in Texas?
States impose certain requirements on what you can name your LLC. For example, the name of your LLC must contain:
- The phrase “limited liability company” or “limited company”; or
- An abbreviation of one of those phrases, such as “LLC”
This helps others to identify your business as a registered LLC. It’s a simple requirement to implement with whatever name you may have already selected. Nevertheless, it is still a requirement, so don’t forget to include it when naming and registering your LLC.
Additional LLC naming requirements to be aware of include the following:
- You must be able to type the name of your LLC on a standard keyboard (i.e., special characters and images cannot be used in your LLC’s name);
- Your LLC name cannot imply that you are affiliated with the government or affiliated with a false or illegal purpose.
- You cannot use the same or a deceptively similar name to another LLC already in existence; and
- The Texas Secretary of State will reject your LLC filing if the name includes an offensive word.
Naming LLCs is no simple task. There are many naming rules and requirements in Texas to be aware of, and this is not an exhaustive list. But hiring a Texas lawyer that specializes in LLC formation can help make the process a little easier.
Can Someone Else Use My LLC Name?
An LLC cannot use a name that is already taken by another LLC. So no, another entity cannot use your LLC name if you are already registered in Texas.
If you have already registered your LLC and somebody else attempts to file their LLC with the same name, the Texas Secretary of State (TXSOS) will reject their filing. If someone uses your LLC name in another state, you may be able to force them to stop (especially if you have registered the name as a federal trademark).
Likewise, if you attempt to name your LLC a name that is already being used, the TXSOS will reject your business filing. Thus, to save yourself time and frustration, it is important to prepare your application with a name that is not already being used.
Fortunately, the TXSOS has a list of all of the LLCs that are registered in the state. Thus, make sure to do your due diligence and ensure that your proposed business name is not already registered to another LLC.
What If the Name I Want to Use for My LLC Is Only Similar to Another LLC’s Name and Not Exactly the Same?
It is important to note that you also cannot use a name that is “deceptively similar” to another LLC’s name.
According to Texas Administrative Code section 79.39, the TXSOS will determine that a proposed name is the “same” as an existing one if the only difference between the two names is the use of one or more of the following:
- Upper or lower case letters;
- Distinctive lettering or typeface;
- Superscript or subscript letters or numerals;
- Punctuation marks, accent marks, periods, spaces, or symbols that do not alter the name sufficiently to make the names distinguishable;
- Articles or conjunctions (i.e., “The Truck Stop” is the same as “Truck Stop”); and
- Repetition, absence, or difference in letters that does not alter the names sufficiently to make the names distinguishable (i.e., “Texxas Strong” is the same as “Texas Strong”).
Essentially, the TXSOS will reject any name that will likely lead to confusion within the marketplace. If you do decide to use a name that is similar to another LLC, you likely need the owner of the existing business with a similar name to sign a Consent to Use of Similar Name before the Secretary of State will approve your Certificate of Formation.
An experienced Texas LLC formation attorney can help you navigate the process of naming your LLC and identify any barriers along the way.
Can I Use My Last Name In My LLC Name?
Yes, you can use your last name in your LLC name. However, if you have a common last name, you may have to use additional words to your LLC name to avoid confusion with another company.
Can Your Business Name Be Different Than Your LLC Name?
Texas law specifically authorizes the use of a business name that is different from the business’s registered LLC name.
This is known as an LLC’s “assumed name” and is sometimes referred to as a DBA (short for “doing business as”).
To conduct business under an assumed name, you must complete and file Form 503 (aka an “assumed name certificate”) with the TXSOS. An LLC may have more than one assumed name. The filing fee for an assumed name certificate is $25 per assumed name.
DBAs expire in 10 years, so if you are using the assumed name long term you will need to re-file the DBA every 10 years.
Should I conduct a federal trademark search?
Yes, performing a search of the federal trademark database for related names is very important. If someone has received (or even just applied for) a federal trademark for the same or a similar name, you should speak with an intellectual property lawyer to get an opinion on whether or not your business can co-exist with the existing business that has a federal trademark. Read more about the benefits of a federal trademark search.
Should I consider a federal trademark registration for my business name?
A federal trademark is a very powerful and valuable asset. If your business name can be trademarked, it would be wise to apply for a federal trademark. Read more about the benefits of a federal trademark.