Are There Restrictions for Naming my LLC in Tennessee?

Posted by John Crow | Jul 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

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If you are considering starting a limited liability company (LLC) for your small business, it's an exciting time. You might be looking forward to certain freedoms and opportunities that other jobs do just not have. In blazing your trail forward with this new enterprise, you want to consider a name that is distinguishable from your competition and that inspires the curiosity of customers. But when considering your name, there are some restrictions for LLCs that you must keep in mind. Here is an overview of what those name restrictions are in Tennessee:

What restrictions are there in Tennessee when naming my LLC?

The Tennessee Secretary of State Division of Business Services is the place that you go to register you business name. This agency also creates the rules concerning business names. Below are some of these regulations you should be aware of when determining the name of your LLC:

  • Your LLC name must be distinguishable from all other businesses, whether they are corporations, nonprofits, LLCs, general partnershipslimited partnerships, or sole proprietorships.
  • However, in Tennessee, if you are an LLC or Corporation, your names must be clearly distinguishable. That is not the case, for example with sole proprietorships:
    • Amy's Organic Bakery vs. Amy's Organic Bakeries – both would be considered distinguishable.
    • Amy's Organic Bakery, Inc. vs. Amy's Organic Bakery, LLC – these names are not distinguishable under Tennessee law. 
  • Your LLC name must NOT imply
    • You work with the government when you are not a government agency.
    • You are a charity when you are not.
    • You are certified as something when you are not.
  • You must seek approval by the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions if you want to use certain financial-related terms in your name, like:
    • bank;
    • credit union;
    • mortgage; or
    • trust.

As a side note, you should also keep in mind that the Secretary of State only checks that your name is distinguishable. They do not check if it violates any federal trademark laws. So if you name your business "Amy's Organic Bakeries, LLC" when there is already an "Amy's Organic Bakery, LLC" then you could potentially be liable for name infringement, and the owner of Amy's Organic Bakery, LLC may sue you because of it. So be careful when naming your business. Run a business name check with the Tennessee Secretary of State to make sure that the name you want is distinguishable from the competition.

Do I need to register the name of my LLC in Tennessee?

If you are starting a business in Tennessee, you need to register the name of your company. The only exception is if you're doing business as a sole proprietorship. Sole proprietorships are informal businesses and do not fall under the same regulations that other, more formal business entities do. 

But there is one caveat to this: if you do not register your sole proprietorship's name, legal battles may ensue later. Registration of a name grants you control and helps you avoid legal issues concerning name infringement, unfair competition, and unfair trade practices.

Contact a Business Planning Attorney in Clarksville, TN Today

If you want to create a business, then contacting an experienced business attorney is the first step to take. John W. Crow is an experienced business lawyer in Clarksville. He can review your plans with you, provide guidance, and ensure that you are doing everything right in accordance with the law and to avoid future lawsuits. Contact John W. Crow today. 

About the Author

John Crow

John Crow is the founder of Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC, a boutique law firm located in Clarksville, Tennessee. He has extensive experience in guiding people through the important and often complex decisions surrounding wills, trusts, conservatorships, and business formations.

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