March 15, 2009Topics: Business-of-Pet-Sitting
Selecting the perfect name for your pet-sitting business can be tricky, especially in today's savvy market. With the increasing number of pet-sitting companies today, some names are trademarked and therefore totally off-limits. Although hiring an attorney may involve some expense, it is a wise initial investment to find out if you have the RIGHT to use a specific business name.
For example, a pet sitter in Florida had been doing an excellent business under a certain name for more than a year. She had established an excellent reputation and developed a devoted clientele. Then out of the blue, a letter arrived from an attorney in the Midwest informing her to cease and desist use of her business's name immediately because it was federally trademarked by his client. To make a long story short, the Florida pet sitter had to hire an attorney to look into the matter, only to find that indeed, she did not have the right to do business under her current name. Her innocent mistake ended up being a very costly one. It was expensive to change all of her forms, stationary and business literature. Having to notify her clients of a new name was awkward as well. It would have been less expensive to go through all the proper name-checking channels at the outset - not to mention the headaches she would have been spared.
Selecting a name has become a more difficult task in recent years. That's why it's a good idea to come up with several names for your business. If your first choice is not available, you'll be ready with other options.
Once you've narrowed down your name selections to two or three favorites, you'll need to check with your local Register of Deeds to see if your first choice is in use by another business in your community. If the name is locally available to you, your next inquiry should be to the Secretary of State's office to determine if anyone in your state has registered a business under your preferred name. If not, you'll probably have free and clear right to do business under that name in your state.
At this point, the only hitch with being able to use the name is if it has already been trademarked with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) in Washington, D.C. You can determine if there's a federal trademark on the name by visiting the U.S. Patent and Trademark's official Web site and checking registrations, or by hiring a patent and trademark attorney to do this verification for you.
Once you've decided on a name and made sure it is available, consider how you can best protect the name for your business. Discuss how to do this with an attorney, because it is a very serious subject. With the anticipated continued growth of the pet-sitting industry, you don't want any surprises in your mailbox in the years to come. And you'll want the legal backing to be able to protect your good name and reputation if another pet sitter tries to infringe upon it.
For more information on naming your business and other pet-sitting protocol, check out Pet Sitting for Profit by Patti J. Moran.
To find a professional pet sitter in your area, visit the PSI Locator.
© Copyright 2010 by Pet Sitters International. All rights reserved. For reprint permission for this article, contact EllenPrice@petsit.com.
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