If I own a sole proprietorship small business/retail, in Michigan, can another person legally start the same retail business with my business’s same name in the same state and county, by just turning my owned name into an LLC?

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If I own a sole proprietorship small business/retail, in Michigan, can another person legally start the same retail business with my business’s same name in the same state and county, by just turning my owned name into an LLC?

I bought a business name as a sole
proprietorship, in December of 2017, in
Allegan County, MI. The name is made
legal, was going to be a retail
business.

However, a friend that I had been
discussing business plans with, told me
this morning, that he had went online to
LegalZoom.com, and turned the business
name that I own, into an LLC, also in
Allegan County, Michigan. But in his
name only. My name was not entered onto
the legal papers for the LLC. Yet, my
name is on the business name sole
proprietorship legal documents.

Can he legally take it from me, like he
did? Or is there some kind of legal
action I can pursue, to stop the LLC
process, with him named as the sole
owner of my already legalized business
name?

Asked on June 17, 2018 under Business Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Was the business name registered in your state? If it was, then they might not be able to register the same exact name: generally, you have only one registered business in a given state under a given name. Or if the name had been trademarked, they could not infringe on your trademark. But if it had been been registered or trademarked, the whether or not it had been in use previously, anyone else can use the name. It is registration or trademark, not mere use, that potentally blocks another from using a business name.


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