How to Name Your Web Agency (with the law in mind)


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Donata Stroink-Skillrud

Co-founder and President of Termageddon

naming your web agency with the law in mind

Congratulations! You’ve got a beautiful, baby agency! Just like with a real baby, it’s time to give it a name… and, just like with a real baby, try not to mess it up. 

Looking at you, Elon.

But who are we to judge? We settled on “Termageddon” for our business name. While it’s true that our name still makes our parents cringe a little, there’s one thing we nailed when coming up with something to call our business: it’s legally sound.

For web agencies (in particular) this isn’t always the case.

We work with thousands of web agency partners and have noticed that as more agencies are created, it’s becoming more common to see new names surface that may run into issues with certain laws and requirements. We’re talking everything from names similar or identical to other agencies to names prohibited by law. 

These mistakes could prevent you from ever getting approved for a trademark or could even lead to lawsuits down the road. These mistakes may also prevent you from obtaining a Corporation or an LLC with that business name.  So, here are some things to consider when coming up with a name for your growing business.

*Please note: This is not legal advice.

Tip 1: Make it unique

This seems straightforward, but web agencies seem drawn towards words like ‘creative’ and ‘inspire’ to the point that they’re no longer very creative or inspiring. 

Anecdotal example aside, having a name similar to a competitor’s could lead to trademark issues. Trademark disputes are highly dependent on the particular case, but they typically look at things like:

  • Which business was first to trademark the name
  • What industry the businesses are in 
  • Where the businesses operate 

By sharing a name with another web agency, it’s likely that any trademark disputes will be taken seriously since it involves two businesses in the same industry (likely) targeting similar clients. Plus, copying a name can be considered trademark infringement.

So, to be safe, it’s a good idea to strive for a unique name. You can use the following steps to help you find out if a name is unique. 

Step 1: Search your state/country’s legal entity database

States and countries will usually prohibit you from filing to create a legal entity (e.g. an LLC or a Corporation) with a company name if it has already been taken by a different company or if it is very similar to a name that has already been registered by someone else. Therefore, they will usually have databases you can use to search to see if your name is already taken by a business in that location.

Example: the Illinois Secretary of State lets people search particular names to see if another business in the state has already claimed that name.

Step 2: Search USPTO

Since web agencies are usually happy to collect business from any state, it’s also a good idea to search the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to see if your idea for a business name has already been trademarked. If you are not in the US, then you can search your country’s trademark database. 

If a name has already been trademarked, you will not be able to get a trademark for the same name. Also, if your business name is too generic (e.g. ‘Chicago Website Design’), it will not qualify for a trademark as generic names cannot receive a trademark

You can search the trademark database yourself or hire an attorney to do it for you.

Step 3: Check to see if the domain is available

Most hosting websites will allow you to search for a particular domain (website URL) to see if it has been taken. You can also use websites like this to see more details like who purchased the domain, when it was purchased, and when it expires.

If (your business name).com is still available, that’s a good sign that your agency’s name is unique.

Step 4: Google it

Just like you might want to Google your child’s name to make sure there’s no serial killer by the same name, you may also want to Google your idea for an agency name. This will help you identify any other businesses that go by the same (or similar) name, but also help you make sure there’s no weird, urban-dictionary-esque meaning behind the name.

Also, like getting a cheap tattoo in Chinese, Googling it will help you determine if your name is offensive or weird when translated to other languages.

Tip 2: Avoid names that are hard to spell

Remember how earlier we said we couldn’t judge? The same goes for us here. Our top 5 Google search results that drive traffic to our website are:

  1. Termageddon
  2. Termegedon
  3. Termaggeddon
  4. Termageden
  5. Privacy Policy Generator

Sometimes in our scramble to find a name that’s not taken, we can get a little carried away with names that are too long or hard to spell. This can make it harder for people to find your agency both from a Google search standpoint and maybe even an SEO standpoint.

Using us as an example, Termageddon doesn’t exactly rank high when compared to the likes of ‘privacypolicies’ or ‘freewebsitepolicies.’

Tip 3: Avoid prohibited or restricted names

Believe it or not, in true Harry Potter fashion, certain names must not be used. For example, here are names you should probably avoid and why:

  • “Trust Web Design” – You cannot use words like “Insurance,” “Bank,” or “Trust” if your business isn’t actually an insurance company or financial institution. 
  • “FDA – Fun Design Agency” – Having words like “Agency,” “Bureau,” and “Division”  in the name of your business can sometimes lead to it being flagged as it may cause people to confuse your business with an official government agency. 
  • “Squarespice” – You can’t name your business in such a way that it may confuse people into thinking it’s another company (like Squarespace.)
  • “Design Doctor” – In order to use words like “Doctor” or “Attorney” in your agency’s name, you need professional licensing. 
  • “Websites That Aren’t WebSh*t” – I mean, we won’t stop you from giving this one a try, but just know that business names that are offensive, racial, or contain derogatory words will be denied from a trademark. 

Happy Naming! 

If you made it this far, you must be the proud parent(s) of a new web agency. It’s an exciting time, even if sometimes the darn thing might make you want to pull your own hair out.

Speaking of pulling your hair out, if you ever need help with your own website’s policies (Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, Cookie Consent, etc.) or managing the policies of all your future clients, we make all that much, much easier. We’ll even automatically update them as laws change. 

Web agencies can join our free agency partner program. We let you use our product for free in hopes that you’ll use Termageddon, spelled T E R M A G E D D O N, to help protect your clients as well. 

Good luck with your agency and congratulations!

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About the Author
Donata Stroink-Skillrud

Donata is the Co-founder and President of Termageddon and a licensed attorney and Certified Information Privacy Professional. She serves as the Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association's ePrivacy Committee and the Chair of the Chicago Chapter of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

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