Can an LLC Use an Inc. Designation?

By Joe Stone

The designation “LLC” stands for “limited liability company,” which is a form of business entity that is similar in some ways to a corporation, but is separate and distinct from a corporation. The designation “Inc.” stands for “incorporated” and is used solely to identify a corporation. Every state has laws regarding the formation of an LLC, and these laws include specific requirements regarding the words and designations that can legally be included as part of the name for a LLC. No state allows an LLC to use the designation "Inc."

Words and Designations for LLCs

Every state requires a limited liability company to include in its name the designation "LLC" or "L.L.C." or the words "limited liability company." This requirement will be specified in the state's statutes regarding the formation of an LLC, such as in Section 204(a) of the New York Limited Liability Company Law. Section 204(e) of the same law also expressly prohibits using the words "corporation" or "incorporated" or any derivative of these words, such as "Inc." or "Corp.," as part of an LLC's name. The state agency responsible for approving the formation of an LLC, such as the Virginia State Corporation Commission, will often provide information about LLC naming requirements and restrictions on its website.

Distinguishable Names

Another naming requirement for LLCs that is consistently applied throughout the states is that an LLC's name must be distinguishable from the names of all other business entities that are on record with the state. This would include corporations, limited partnerships and other LLCs that have been approved to conduct business in the state. If documents are submitted to form an LLC with a name that is not sufficiently distinguishable, the documents will be reject by the state. To facilitate meeting this naming requirement, many states provide an online searchable database of registered business names that can be used to check the availability of a name for a new LLC.

Ready to start your LLC? Start an LLC Online Now

Word Restrictions

LLC laws typically restrict the use of certain words in an LLC's name that tend to denote a specialized service or industry. For example, the Louisiana LLC laws restricts the use of words such as "engineer" or "engineering" in an LLC's name unless the Louisiana Professional Engineering has been given at least 10 days' notice that such words will be used in as part of an LLC's name. Likewise, Nevada LLC law prohibits the use of the words “accountant” or “accounting” unless the Nevada State Board of Accountancy certifies that the limited liability company is properly registered to provide accounting services.

Infringing Name

Although an LLC name may be approved for use by the state, this does not necessarily mean that the name is legally protected from competing claims to use the name. The state’s approval of the name is limited to authorizing the LLC owners to conduct business in the state under that particular name. Any business name, including LLC names, is subject to use under federal and state trademark and service mark law. If an LLC name approved for use by the state infringes on the trademark or service mark rights of another person or business, the LLC may have to cease using the name.

Ready to start your LLC? Start an LLC Online Now
How to Nationally Trademark a Name


Related articles

Do I Have to Use LLC in the Business Name?

The limited liability company, or LLC, is a creature of state law. As such, it is subject to the laws of the states in which it is organized and registered. All states have some requirements for the name of an LLC and generally have searchable online databases that allow you to determine whether your name has already been registered.

How to Apply to Register a Trade Name in Arizona

Trade names, also known as "doing business as" (DBAs) or assumed business names, enable your company to operate in Arizona using a name that is not its legal name. There are a number of reasons why you may want to use a trade name rather than the legal name of your business. If you're organized as a sole proprietor, a trade name allows you to build a brand around a name that is not your own name. If you're organized as an independent entity, a trade name enables you to operate your business in states where your company's official name is too close to a name used by another entity.

What Does LLC Mean on the End of a Company Name?

LLC is the abbreviation for limited liability company. LLCs are relatively new business structures that combine the features of a corporation and a partnership, specifically the tax benefits of partnerships and the liability protections of a corporation. State governments regulate LLCs, and restrictions on LLC names and abbreviations vary from state to state.

LLCs, Corporations, Patents, Attorney Help

Related articles

LLC Name Requirements

A company’s name sets it apart from competition and helps define the business’s identity. Coming up with a name for a ...

Rules on Naming Your Business in Tennessee

When you want to start a business, one of the first things you must do is pick a name. The Tennessee Secretary of State ...

How to Pick an LLC Name

The laws of every state allow for the creation of business associations. A popular choice of business association among ...

How to Apply for an LLC in Texas

An LLC is a business entity that offers a corporation's protection of limited liability for its owners, known as ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED