The domain name for this website doesn’t even remotely resemble my official business name. That’s why I thought I’d clarify the consequences of having different names. But first, let’s answer the main question:
Can a domain name be different than your legal business name?
Yes, you can have a domain name which is entirely different from your legal business name. For example: The Coca-Cola Company owns multiple domain names for each of their brands: Fanta, Minute Maid and Coca-Cola.
Using a different domain name than your legal businesses name is possible, though it isn’t without consequences. There are some things you should be aware of, as you’ll understand after you’ve finished reading this post.
Consequences: Different Domain & Business Name
A great example of this, is the additional text I’ve added to the disclaimer below. It states both the name of my website (domain name) and my legal business name.
Disclaimer: The content on this website should not be considered legal advice. Click and Know (owner of: Learnaboutwebsites.com) is in no way liable for any decisions or actions you take based on the information published on this website. In fact, I encourage you to seek legal advice from a legal expert on the topics covered on this website.
Now that my butt is covered, let’s continue. In some cases your LLC business application might contain certain information, which can get you sued. Especially if you’re like me and want to try out different ventures, using the same business name.
In the application, you’ll be asked to provide the purpose of your business. This might be very clear and specific, at the time you’re filling out the application. Though why take the risk of limiting your options (and being sued). The simple answer to this question is “To earn money”.
Similar Domain and Business Names (Domain Name Taken)
At the time of writing this post, more than 327 million domain names have been registered. It’s likely the domain name you want, is already registered by someone else. But what about a domain name which is similar to your business name?
You might be able to outsmart the domain game, by adding a hyphen or number to your domain name. Maybe an abbreviation or acronym will do the trick? And what about using a different Top Level Domain (TLD) instead of “.com”.
While these are all nifty tactics, you should actually avoid using them. What if your customer forgets to add the hyphen, when typing in your domain name into their browser? They’ll end up on your competitor’s website, instead of yours.
Your domain name should be short and easy to remember. Now I know what you’re thinking right now. LearnAboutWebsites.com doesn’t fall under the “short” category. And you’re right, I just wasn’t able to find an affordable short domain name, which wasn’t already taken.
So instead of registering a short domain, I chose to register a name which is both meaningful and easy to remember. Here’s the shortlist I came up with:
As you might have noticed, I had set my mind to a domain name using the .com TLD. This isn’t without reason, as the majority of people in my target market is used to typing in this TLD. This doesn’t mean you can’t use a ccTLD like .nl, .ca or .de. As long as your target market is used to typing in the TLD, you’ll be fine.
There’s one more thing you should know, before registering a domain name similar to your legal business name. You should always check if the name you’re registering doesn’t infringe any trademarks. You can use USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to check.
Several businesses can all have the same name. Though if you choose to use a similar name, you’ll be walking on thin ice. It’s ok to name your pizza business “Mario’s”, though if another pizza joint is called the same, you might run into legal issues.
If you’re planning to call your bicycle shop “Mario’s”, you probably don’t have to worry about infringing a trademark. It’s safe to name your business the same as another business, as long as it can’t be confused with another (similar) business.
Difference between a Business and Domain Name
The official name under which my company is registered is Click and Know. It is registered as a sole proprietorship at the chamber of commerce in the Netherlands. Though I’ve registered many different domain names over the last decade.
I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of ventures, though I haven’t been able to find one that sticked. My business, or should I say very expensive hobby, started out as an online education business. Hence the name Click and Know, just click on the video and absorb the knowledge.
Sadly this venture failed, well twice to be exact. I’ve even started a DIY diaper cake business, just to see if I could make it work. Don’t laugh, this business model actually worked, though I just wasn’t passionate enough to grow it. In the end, it turned out to be a massive timesuck.
I’ve registered at least 20 different domain names over the last decade. I don’t own all of them anymore, though I’ve kept the ones which are most important. Like the .com and .nl versions for my own name and for my families names as well.
So what’s the main difference between a business name and a domain name? Domains are registered by businesses or their owners, not the other way around. A business can have multiple brand names, a brand (or domain) can’t have multiple businesses owning it.
Can you get sued for having a similar domain name?
Yes, you can get sued if your domain infringes a registered trademark. You can even get sued if your domain name violates an non-registered trademark. If the domain name is confusingly similar and the rights were obtained by your competitor, before you registered it.
Can someone steal your domain name?
If you’ve already registered a certain domain name, it’s yours. As long as you’re not infringing any rights obtained a similarly named business. Though it’s possible to hack the account you have at a registrar. When someone gets access to your account they can transfer the domain name to a different an account.
Can someone buy my domain name?
Anyone can buy a domain name. If you can prove you’re the rightful owner of a certain name, which has been trademarked. It’s possible to sue the original owner and forcibly transfer the owner rights.