A firm’s full business name is the name that was entered onto the registration certificate it filed with the proper federal and state government agencies, as well as the IRS.
The full business name of any entity is often changed or shortened after the filing of the registration certificate. Marketing concerns, identity branding and public perception of certain industries almost requires that full business names be changed or abbreviated for businesses dealing directly to consumers.
An additional concern for businesses and their public image are the stock market symbols chosen for companies that are publicly traded on one or more of the different exchanges around the world. For example, Washington Mutual bank, whose stock symbol is WAMU, is commonly referred to in conversation as “WAMU” rather than “Washington Mutual.”
Companies that incorporate offshore for tax-saving purposes may not want that information made available to the general public. To keep their country of incorporation secret, they may shorten their business names to one or two key words without giving clues as to their location. Companies in South America typically have the initials S.A. as part of their full business name but might not want to advertise that fact. Also, foreign companies attempting to establish global dominance quite often don’t use their full business names to prevent historic conflicts from influencing their bottom line.
On the Internet, companies quite often use their full names as part of the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) for their websites. Simply by typing in the company’s name followed by “.com,” a potential customer may arrive at the company website. Google, the industry leader in both explosive growth and corporate name recognition, registered itself as Google, Inc. when it first incorporated and has a domain name of www.google.com. Brilliant in its simplicity, the Google name has many imitators on the Internet hoping to achieve even a fraction of that company’s success.
When you register a new business, the very first thing that happens is a name clearance check performed by the firm handling your incorporation. Simple DBAs (“Doing Business As”) and partnerships require only a posting in the local newspapers to avoid name duplication, but corporations are Federally-chartered and require a nationwide name search to avoid confusion. Names that are sufficiently similar require permission from the prior owner of that name, and simply changing one or two words in the full business name won’t be enough to satisfy certain companies.
Imagine if someone wanted to open a computer software company using the terms “micro” and “soft” somewhere in the full business name. Microsoft Corporation would be notified of the new company’s intent and would have a window of time to respond with either an approval or disapproval of the new company’s name. The new company could then appeal the decision and fight for the name it has chosen, but most of these cases are won by the first firm to use the name, particularly when it is a large, recognized firm in its field.
Full business names can be tricky, hiding information from the public when it is in a firms ‘interest or piggybacking a new firm off an older, successful one. When new companies decide to register a name there is quite often a lot of discussion about the exact wording and phrasing, a great deal of it involving the goals of the owners.
If you have any concerns about a business you are dealing with, there are registries online that will tell you everything you need to know about a new business – from its owners, financiers and the location of its headquarters to its country of incorporation. Due diligence will usually pay off with the information you require.