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Secretary of State, Business Services North Dakota Secretary of State
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Business Services
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North Dakota Trade Name FAQs

See: Business Services, Business Registrations, FAQs (generally applicable to all business entities)

When I file a trade name registration with the Secretary of State, is my trade name protected nation-wide?
No. The trade name registration protects the name in North Dakota only.

Does the Secretary of State check the federal trademark registry to determine infringement on any federal filing before registration?
No. The registrant bears responsibility for any infringement on a federal registration. The Secretary of State may file a trade name registration as long as the proposed trade name is not the same as or deceptively similar to:

  • Any other trade name;
  • Domestic or foreign corporation name;
  • Domestic or foreign limited liability company name;
  • Domestic or foreign limited partnership name;
  • Domestic or foreign limited liability partnership name;
  • Domestic or foreign limited liability limited partnership name; or
  • A name the right to which is in any manner reserved or registered with the Secretary of State unless the registration is accompanied by written consent to use of name of the holder of the similar name, or if a franchise, a written consent from the franchiser.

If I have an Internet domain name, can that domain name also be registered as my business name?
Yes, if the domain name is not the same as or deceptively similar to any business name already in some manner registered with the Secretary of State. Therefore, ownership of a domain name is not a guarantee that the domain name can be the business name.

If I file a trade name registration with the Secretary of State, will I be notified prior to the expiration of the registration?
Yes. The trade name registration has a five-year registration period. Ninety days prior to the expiration thereof, the Secretary of State mails a renewal application to the registrant at the last recorded address. To insure timely delivery of the renewal application, the registrant must inform the Secretary of State of any addresses changes that occur during the five-year registration period.

What will the Secretary of State do if I have a trade name registered and another party starts using the name, or one very similar to the name I registered?
Trade name registrants are advised to seek legal counsel in the event of a name conflict. The Office of the Secretary of State is a filing agency and is not authorized to resolve legal matters involving trade name conflicts.

NDCC, Section 47-25-01, Subsection 2 states:

"2. A person or organization that has registered a trade name under this section may institute a civil suit prohibiting any other person from using the name."

Since the Secretary of State will not allow the registration of a business name that is the same as or deceptively similar to a registered trade name or any other registered name, it's likely that the business using your trade name is not in any manner registered with the Secretary of State.

What are my options if my trade name registration is rejected because the trade name I've chosen is not available?
The Secretary of State may accept the registration if:

  • Trade name registration is accompanied by a written consent to use of name signed by the owner of every conflicting name with $10 for each consent;
  • Trade name registration is accompanied by a consent of the franchiser if the proposed name is intended for a franchisee; or
  • Trade name registration reflects an alternate name that is available.

If a business changes its trade name, how does it change the name on the trade name registration on file with the Secretary of State?
Since the name cannot be changed on the trade name registration, the registrant must file a "new" trade name registration and cancel the "old" one.

How does a registrant cancel a trade name registration?
The Secretary of State does not prescribe a form for the purpose of trade name cancellation. The registrant must draft a request to cancel the trade name. This request must be:
  • Signed by the registrant;
  • Accompanied by a filing fee of $10; and
  • Submitted to the Secretary of State.

Can a partnership register a trade name?
Yes, however, a general partnership using a "fictitious name" is required by law to file a partnership fictitious name certificate with the Secretary of State. The partnership fictitious name certificate is a filing very similar to the trade name registration. Therefore, the Secretary of State will file a trade name registration for a partnership after the partnership fictitious name certificate is satisfied.

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