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Old December 6th, 2002, 08:14 PM   #1
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Production company name?

I put a production company name at the beginning of my recently completed short ("So and so productions presents"), and of course no such company (that I know of) exists. Is there a way to make this name official? Or do I just need to take it out?
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Old December 6th, 2002, 08:58 PM   #2
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Josh,

You can name your production company anything you want as long as there isn't another company with the same name. You can perform a search to see if another company has the same name at http://www.uspto.gov.

In a nutshell, if your trademark isn't registered, you can put the mark which indicates an unregistered trademark.

If you do register it, then you can use the mark.

According to the US Patent and Trademark site, the benefits for registering are:
  • 1. Constructive notice nationwide of the trademark owner's claim.
    2. Evidence of ownership of the trademark.
    3. Jurisdiction of federal courts may be invoked.
    4. Registration can be used as a basis for obtaining registration in foreign countries.
    5. Registration may be filed with U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.

It's interesting to see which companies have NOT registered their trademarks. For instance, watch the "Dreamworks" logo before a film starts. It shows the mark rather than .

If you want to register it, go to http://www.uspto.gov for details. The filing fee is "$325.00 per class of goods and/or services." That can add up quickly considering the different classes of goods they specify.
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Old December 7th, 2002, 09:34 AM   #3
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You also should be aware of the "fictional name" registration requirements that are the law in all states and are independent of the Federal trademark laws.

If you plan to do business under any name other than your own, you have to register the name with the secretary of state (or similar official) of your state. Most state governments have Web sites that will explain the process -- which involves filling out a form and paying a fee and then publishing a notice in certain newspapers. If you are going to sell your work under the production company name you have to do this.

This name registration requirement is intended to make business fraud more difficult (or, at least obvious) by creating a public record of who is doing business under what name(s).
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Old December 7th, 2002, 09:15 PM   #4
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Josh,
To register a fictitous name here in Houston, go to the county clerks office. Last time I did it, it was 10 or 20 dollars. First do a search of the files there to see if it's registered.

This is the document you will need to go open an account at the bank under the company name.

As always, procedures are different in other localities...
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Old December 7th, 2002, 09:22 PM   #5
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Josh,

Bill's right...it is cheap and easy to do in Texas. I did it once before in Austin with my old photography business. Tell the person who helps you at the County Clerks office that you need a "DBA" form (Doing Business As).

Also, it's a good idea to take the DBA once it's processed to your bank and set up a separate bank account with the DBA name. The account will be something like "Josh Bass dba Bass Productions." Then, keep all your private and business-related purchases, expenses, etc. separate. It'll save you a lot of headaches when it comes time to pay the taxman.

And on that note...you might want to look at a program called M.Y.O.B. (Mind Your Own Business) and start using it to track expenses, equipment and supplies purchases, business-related income, etc.

Do that and...guess what...you're a business.
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Old December 7th, 2002, 10:34 PM   #6
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This 10-20 dollar dealy is good nationwide? Hell, worldwide?
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Old December 7th, 2002, 10:56 PM   #7
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Josh,

That fee is just to allow you to "do business as"...meaning it legally binds "you" to the "company." If you set up another production company...or branch... in another state or company (or maybe even different county, I guess), you'd have to do the same thing again. But still...that means you can use that company name to do business anywhere...since you're "based" out of your current location where you've filed a DBA.

But it does NOT have anything to do with registering the company name itself. That's a whole different procedure...what I mentioned earlier associated with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

I'm not sure about international guidelines as far as registering a company name goes...but I can't imagine a production company in...say...New Zealand or Japan or wherever...caring whether a company in the U.S. has the same name. A lot of Americans tend to think the American way is the way of the world...and that just isn't the case. What's legal there might not mean squat here.

I don't know what's to stop a company in New Zealand from calling themselves "DreamWorks." Maybe someone here can shed some light on that. Also, I'd be interested in knowing whether you need to file a different DBA for different counties.
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Old December 8th, 2002, 01:05 AM   #8
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I was just going to go ahead and put the "TM" after the name in the credits. I could pay 10-20 bucks though. $325? Not so sure. I don't think I care that much.
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Old December 8th, 2002, 07:51 AM   #9
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Josh,

John is correct in all he says. I would like to add that a dba here in Houston, only covers Harris county. It is not really designed to "Protect" your right to the name. The system is just set up so that people can't have the same business names in the same county.


I had a touring theatrical company, and needed to set up bank accounts in states across the U.S. I usually just showed them my Texas DBA, and they were good to go with that.

It is also only good for ten years, after which you have to renew it. When you register, you will choose to become a "sole proprietor" or a "Partnership". But here is where we strey into setting up your business, and you should REALLY consult an attorney.

For the record, I own several businesses, and have never registered the trademark names. I have however, filed dba's and did searches in local databases, (Online, phone books, county clerks tax records) to make sure no one else was using a similar name.
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Old December 8th, 2002, 08:47 PM   #10
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I don't know if what I'm doing qualifies as a "business" since I don't plan on making money (maybe ever!) for a while.
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Old December 9th, 2002, 02:57 AM   #11
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Okay folks. Searched the US trademark and patent office for the name I used, found no matches. Since I'm doing business, I'm going to go ahead and keep the name, adding the little "TM" as was advised. Hopefully before someone sues me they'll be kind enough to ask me to stop using the name first.
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Old December 9th, 2002, 06:12 AM   #12
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Well? The suspense is killing us! What name have you chosen?!
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Old December 9th, 2002, 08:41 AM   #13
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Josh,


Yeah, if someone else already uses it, you can expect a "nastygram" first. That's standard operating procedure.
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Old December 9th, 2002, 12:20 PM   #14
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Oh. . .nothing fancy. It was "Non-Practicing Productions." It reflects my status as a man born Jewish who ceased doing everything but gift giving at Hannukkah (which I've probably spelled wrong, and I don't mean the C, cause that's optional).
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Old December 9th, 2002, 01:59 PM   #15
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Josh,
Pretty funny... I wouldn't sweat the name much.
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