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  1. #1
    SitePoint Evangelist TomTees's Avatar
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    Putting Trademark & Domain in Attorney's Name

    I am looking to maintain my privacy as I start to build my start-up business.

    If I register a Trademark and/or Domain in my attorney's name, will I lose ownership of either?

    When I called the USPTO, they said that if I register a Trademark it has to be in a person's name - as opposed to a company name. Furthermore, if I registered things in *my name*, then there would be a permanent record out there in the public domain.

    I also know, for instance, that in my home state, that once you incorporate your business, your Name and Address become "public record" for life. Even if your corporation dissolves, that information is written in stone forever, and they require a permanent address, so if you use your home address and become popular, you are screwed!!)

    I'm not crazy about that. (Bill Gates did not use his personal name and home address when he set up Microsoft?!)

    So is there some way that I can maintain ownership without advertising my Name and Personal Info??

    (There must be some way to do this, as there are probably a lot of business owners out there that have similar concerns.)

    Sincerely,



    TomTees

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    Barefoot on the Moon! silver trophy Force Flow's Avatar
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    Putting it in your attorney's name will essentially mean the attorney owns it.

    You could use a DBA instead of your name. But, then when somebody hunts down who owns the DBA, your information would come up anyway.

    And/or, you could get a PO Box, though that does tend to get a little pricey.
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    Incorporate your business in another state. For example, many corporations are set up in Delaware even though they are physically located in another state. They have an agent located in Delaware and Delaware allows this.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Evangelist TomTees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donmarvin View Post
    Incorporate your business in another state. For example, many corporations are set up in Delaware even though they are physically located in another state. They have an agent located in Delaware and Delaware allows this.
    I don't think that would solve my problem.

    1.) Trademark: You can't register a Trademark as a company, only as an individual.

    2.) Domain Name: You can't register a Domain Name as a company, only as an individual. Plus, even though you can change contact info, it is possible to see who the *original* applicant was.

    3.) Incorporation: A company cannot Incorporate another company - as far as I know.

    My issue is that in this digital world, more and more of your info get put on the Internet forever. (In the good ol' days, if you wanted to know stuff, you'd have to go down to the County Clerk or Secretary of State, but now it is easily Googled.)

    I don't want people to know my Physical Address, and I'm not so crazy about them even knowing my Name, although I guess that goes hand-in-hand with business ownership.

    I don't see why a Corporation cannot register a Trademark or a Domain Name, but it cannot.

    (I wonder how Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did it?! Certainly they run everything through a lawyer, and don't give out their personal info.)

    Using a "Registered Agent" and a "Registered Office" doesn't work in the beginning because of the onership issues you brought up.

    If I register a Trademark or Domain as John Doe then I own them but my info is eternally on public display.

    If my attorney registered a Trademark or Domain, then my info is safe but it seems like he owns both.

    There must be some way to have my cake and eat it too?!



    TomTees

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    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Just a thought -- You are setting up a business website where you will expect your customers to leave their names, emails, personal addresses (for purposes of shipping or billing & collections), and possibly their phone number(s). If you are selling online at all, you will also be collecting credit card information. That's a lot of trust to expect from a business that won't divulge it's owner's name and address. Personally, I don't do business with any company that doesn't completely identify itself. Trust works both ways.
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    Of course you can register a domain name in a company name, who on earth told you that you can't? Just search for most companies on the whois database, the 'registrant' is usually the company.

    http://www.whois-search.com/whois/microsoft.com

    And I just searched the US trademark web site and found a bunch of trademarks for Microsoft, registered in the 'Microsoft Corporation' name.

    A corporation is an entity in its own right and can purchase, register and sell things in its own name, no need to have directors, CEOs or owners listed at all.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Evangelist TomTees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    Just a thought -- You are setting up a business website where you will expect your customers to leave their names, emails, personal addresses (for purposes of shipping or billing & collections), and possibly their phone number(s). If you are selling online at all, you will also be collecting credit card information. That's a lot of trust to expect from a business that won't divulge it's owner's name and address. Personally, I don't do business with any company that doesn't completely identify itself. Trust works both ways.
    True, but I bet you don't know where Bill gates lives...

    And I bet if you did a WhoIs search or a Trademark search or anything else, all you would see is Microsoft Corp.

    That is my point.

    Okay, so they can have my name - maybe - but I'm not looking to expose my who personal life online permanently.

    Where do you bank at?

    I bet you don't know anything about the CEO/President except maybe in name, right?

    Good points, but hopefully you see mine as well?!


    TomTees

  8. #8
    SitePoint Evangelist TomTees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox View Post
    Of course you can register a domain name in a company name, who on earth told you that you can't? Just search for most companies on the whois database, the 'registrant' is usually the company.

    http://www.whois-search.com/whois/microsoft.com
    Interesting.

    Okay, but if you do a special search - like with a Domain Tool like ISP's have - would it still come up as the Microsoft Corporation registering "microsoft.com" originally?

    And even if that is okay, I would still need a Corporation. (And that was another one of my sticking points, although I'm pretty sure I can pay my attorney to be the Regisitered Agent and Registered Office.)


    And I just searched the US trademark web site and found a bunch of trademarks for Microsoft, registered in the 'Microsoft Corporation' name.
    I just know that the USPTO told me that I cannot register a Trademark in the name of MyCorporation, Inc. (Maybe there is a way around that?!)


    A corporation is an entity in its own right and can purchase, register and sell things in its own name, no need to have directors, CEOs or owners listed at all.
    Well, to incorporate you do have to have "Officers" and that is public information. That is law in probably all 50 States.

    If someone digs enough they can find anything out, but what I want to avoid is the mistake I made before...

    I registered my consulting company back of college and used my dad's home address, and then many years later found out that My Name, His Name, and His Address - where I grew up - is on permanent public display until the end of time thanks to my home state's Secretary of States policies?! (That includes if either of us die and/or the corporation is dissolved. FOREVER!!!

    I'm kind of look to avoid such a mistake this time around...



    TomTees

  9. #9
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    apparently facebook has now trademarked the word "face"

    http://gizmodo.com/5697709/please-do...-the-word-face
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  10. #10
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomTees View Post
    True, but I bet you don't know where Bill gates lives...
    "The Gates' home is an earth-sheltered house in the side of a hill overlooking Lake Washington in Medina." from Wickipedia

    Quote Originally Posted by TomTees View Post
    And I bet if you did a WhoIs search or a Trademark search or anything else, all you would see is Microsoft Corp.
    Correct, because it is the corporation and not the person who owns the trademark.

    Quote Originally Posted by TomTees View Post
    That is my point.

    Okay, so they can have my name - maybe - but I'm not looking to expose my who personal life online permanently.

    Where do you bank at?

    I bet you don't know anything about the CEO/President except maybe in name, right?

    Good points, but hopefully you see mine as well?!
    Wells Fargo. The CEO is a Minnesota native, John G. Stumpf. His professional bio is on the Wells Fargo Site.

    There is a myriad of pages about both of these high-profile people on the net. No, their addresses aren't listed in Wikipedia or in their bios. They needn't be because they are not running sole proprietorships. However both of them seem to understand the importance of releasing some of their personal information to their customers as well as to their colleagues in the business community. That's my point.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomTees View Post
    Okay, but if you do a special search - like with a Domain Tool like ISP's have - would it still come up as the Microsoft Corporation registering "microsoft.com" originally?
    Well, if Gates first created the company, then registered the domain, then yes.

    I just know that the USPTO told me that I cannot register a Trademark in the name of MyCorporation, Inc. (Maybe there is a way around that?!)
    I'm not from the US, but that doesn't seem correct, considering I have done a few searches on various patents, and they are all registered in corporation names. Perhaps they meant there has to be a company officer's name attached to the original documentation?

    Well, to incorporate you do have to have "Officers" and that is public information. That is law in probably all 50 States.
    Same in the UK. Here if you create a company, you have to accept that your name (as director) will be public record at Companies House. You can however use your company's registered office as your contact (service) address, not sure if that's the same in the US. And that registered office can be any physical address (e.g. your accountant's, or one provided by one of the many companies offering registered office services).

    Certainly in the UK, if you create a company, there has to be a paper trail back to the human who created it. I think Sagewing may be the person to advise better on the US side of company formation though!

  12. #12
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    Will an LLC suffice?

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    Why do you have to expose your home address? I work from my home office but all my mail and accounts are at my business address. Nothing has my home address. My business address cost me $300 for 15 months at The UPS Store.

  14. #14
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    A corporation can own a copyright.

    A 'natural' human must own a corporation.

    The owner of a corporation must register with their state using their real name and address.

    An alternate business address may be used if you don't want to expose your home address, rules vary by state (i.e. no PO boxes for registered agent in some states, etc).

    An LLC is the same as a corporation for purposed of owning a copyright.

    In some states, nominee officers can be used to essentially hide the directors/officers of a corporation but this adds complexity and expense and is generally not necessary.

    Forming a corporation in another state in order to gain privacy will generally incur extra expenses and is not necessarily effective.

    Most states have service providers who will act as your mailing address and resident agent.

    If you hire a company to act as your agent and mailing address, you must still disclose your personal information to that company and they must disclose it if compelled to by the law. Even a PO box will require you to provide ID and a residential address.
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    King of Paralysis by Analysis bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomTees View Post

    1.) Trademark: You can't register a Trademark as a company, only as an individual.
    So you're trying to tell me that some person owns the trademark to Coca Cola or Xerox? I think not.

    2.) Domain Name: You can't register a Domain Name as a company, only as an individual. Plus, even though you can change contact info, it is possible to see who the *original* applicant was.
    Again, see Coca Cola

  16. #16
    SitePoint Evangelist TomTees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Zan View Post
    Will an LLC suffice?
    No, I want an S-Corp for legal and tax purposes.


    TomTees

  17. #17
    SitePoint Evangelist TomTees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donmarvin View Post
    Why do you have to expose your home address? I work from my home office but all my mail and accounts are at my business address. Nothing has my home address. My business address cost me $300 for 15 months at The UPS Store.
    This will be a home business, so there is no alternative physical address unless I use a Registered Office through my attorney, which is fine.

    My earlier point was that "the Internet and Public Records on the Internet are forever in the 21st century!!"

    Again, I'm not worried about the incorporation part now that I know to not register using your home address.

    However, I was/am uncertain about registering a Domain Name and a Trademark because I was told that both had to be registered in *my* name and use a *physical address* and that I could register either through my soon-to-be corporation.



    TomTees

  18. #18
    SitePoint Evangelist TomTees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing View Post
    A corporation can own a copyright.
    Okay, but I was talking about a Trademark.


    A 'natural' human must own a corporation.
    Right.


    The owner of a corporation must register with their state using their real name and address.

    An alternate business address may be used if you don't want to expose your home address, rules vary by state (i.e. no PO boxes for registered agent in some states, etc).

    An LLC is the same as a corporation for purposed of owning a copyright.

    In some states, nominee officers can be used to essentially hide the directors/officers of a corporation but this adds complexity and expense and is generally not necessary.

    Forming a corporation in another state in order to gain privacy will generally incur extra expenses and is not necessarily effective.

    Most states have service providers who will act as your mailing address and resident agent.

    If you hire a company to act as your agent and mailing address, you must still disclose your personal information to that company and they must disclose it if compelled to by the law. Even a PO box will require you to provide ID and a residential address.
    I already have an attorney that will act as my Registered Agent and Registered Office for my original business, so I have that issue taken care of.

    I tried calling him today but he was out for Thanksgiving. I'll have to see about what I can and cannot do as far as a Trademark and Domain Names.

    The *ideal* situation would be to use him as a Registered Agent and Registered Office so all I have to make public is my name, and then register my Trademark and Domain names via my new Corporation so that the Corporation owns them and when people search public reacords and/or online all they see is that the MyCorporationName owns the Trademark and Domain Names and thus I have more privacy...


    TomTees

  19. #19
    SitePoint Evangelist TomTees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tke71709 View Post
    So you're trying to tell me that some person owns the trademark to Coca Cola or Xerox? I think not.
    I'm telling you what the USPTO told me. (I thought it sounded fishy...)


    Again, see Coca Cola
    I know.

    And what about Domain Names?

    (I know someone else posted earlier that "Administrator" was the Administrative Contact for Microsoft.com, but I have always been told you can't do that...)



    TomTees

  20. #20
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Using a resident agent service to form a business will cost about $100 and will effectively conceal your address as viewed by the public. Using that business to register domains, etc. will further distance your physical address from the public records.

    Using an attorney as resident agent is usually unecessary for a small business and may not be cost effective. There is very little benefit to this unless your attorney is handling incoming correspondence for you - otherwise they would just be acting as an incredibly expensive private mailbox.

    Quote Originally Posted by TomTees View Post
    No, I want an S-Corp for legal and tax purposes.
    I'm curious about this one. There is always debate about which is best and never a clear answer. What makes you think an s-corp is better for legal purpose? and tax?
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  21. #21
    SitePoint Evangelist TomTees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing View Post
    Using a resident agent service to form a business will cost about $100 and will effectively conceal your address as viewed by the public. Using that business to register domains, etc. will further distance your physical address from the public records.

    Using an attorney as resident agent is usually unnecessary for a small business and may not be cost effective. There is very little benefit to this unless your attorney is handling incoming correspondence for you - otherwise they would just be acting as an incredibly expensive private mailbox.
    Well, the attorney I used before for my IT consulting business only charge me like $200 to be a Registered Agent/Office.

    In that case, I have a P.O. Box, so he doesn't handle any mail unless it has to go to a Physical Address/Registered Office (e.g. Letters from Secretary of State). And that is one reason the fee is so low.


    I'm curious about this one. There is always debate about which is best and never a clear answer. What makes you think an s-corp is better for legal purpose? and tax?
    Well, I'm not sure about S-Corp vs LLC, and I am by no means a lawyer, but this is what I know (and believe to be correct)...

    - A Corporation is a legal entity and treated like a "person" in the eyes of the law. So being incorporated insulates the Owners/Board of Directors, because the corporation can be sued and liable unless you are like Enron or BP or Goldman Sacs?! (Oh wait... this is America... Corporations are always right and blame free!!)

    - Being an S-Corp is a tax designation from the IRS where all income passes directly through to the owner with single taxation as opposed to C-Corporations suffer from double taxation.

    When IBM - as a C-Corp - makes $$$ they must pay the IRS, and then when the pay their employees, those employees must also pay taxes on their wages.

    As an S-corp, all revenue passes straight through to the owner and you only taxes once on your individual tax return. (I'm not a CPA, so they may not be the best way toe explain it.)

    So, in summary, being incorporated and applying for S-corp status serve to insulate you from being sued and liable (i.e. "limited liability"), and it also serves as a wicked tax shelter.

    For instance, if I worked as W-2 contractor and bought Post-It notes it wouldn't be tax deductible. But if I was an S-Corp (or technically a Sole Proprietor) and working on a 1099 basis, then I can right off the Post-It notes as a legitimate business expense.

    Taxes 101:
    Want to minimize your U.S. Tax Liability?
    1.) Be poor
    2.) Be rich
    3.) Be a business

    Anyways, back to recapture my thread!!


    TomTees

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomTees View Post
    And what about Domain Names?

    (I know someone else posted earlier that "Administrator" was the Administrative Contact for Microsoft.com, but I have always been told you can't do that...)
    'Administrative Contact' is not the same as 'Registrant'. The registrant is the legal owner of the domain (Microsoft), while the administrative contact is simply the person in charge of dealing with day to day admin of the domain 'The Administrator'. Only the registrant name has any legal bearing.

    I looked into this previously and can find no where in '.com rules' that states that the admin contact must list an actual name. The important bit is that the address and email are valid as these may be used for contact.

    Of course, you could put any old name for 'admin', who'd know who actually deals with your domain admin? There's no way practical to verify this. Just make sure the address is correct.

  23. #23
    SitePoint Evangelist TomTees's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox View Post
    'Administrative Contact' is not the same as 'Registrant'. The registrant is the legal owner of the domain (Microsoft), while the administrative contact is simply the person in charge of dealing with day to day admin of the domain 'The Administrator'. Only the registrant name has any legal bearing.

    I looked into this previously and can find no where in '.com rules' that states that the admin contact must list an actual name. The important bit is that the address and email are valid as these may be used for contact.
    Okay, that is good to know.

    But what about for the 'Registrant'?

    Can you use a Company Name or Corporation Name (instead of a person's name)?

    If I could register "MyDomainName.com" to "MyCompanyOrCorporationName" and use "MyCompanyOrCorporationName" as the 'registrant' and then use MyCompanyOrCorporationName's Address then that would take care of my privacy concerns as far as domain names go. (Follow all of that?!)

    (This also presupposes that "MyCompanyOrCorporationName" would have legal rights and ownership of "MyDomainName.com" and that since this would be an S-Corp, that would inturn make me the sole legal owner...)


    TomTees

  24. #24
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    TomTees, I would recommend that you do a bit of research into how business entities are formed, taxes, and managed as well as how they perform with regards to liabilities issues.

    An s-Corp may or may not be the ideal entity for your business, but based on some of your comments it might be wise to further investigate your options. Typically, the decision of which entity to form for a small business is based on the expected tax liability and convenience of operation in your state. The liability protection is generally adequate with either LLC or Corp, and relative privacy can be had with either.

    Unless your attorney is extremely small business friendly I'd recommend that you consult with a CPA as well as the entity choice is largely related to your expected revenue and tax situatoin.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  25. #25
    SitePoint Evangelist TomTees's Avatar
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    I've had my own S-Corp for nearly a decade now and it has worked well for me. I know how it works.

    Since this new venture is similar, there is no reason it won't work equally well.

    Regardless, my original post really has nothing to do with this.

    I was merely asking if it is or is not possible to register a Trademark and Domain as a company.



    TomTees


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