Is Owning 2 Businesses More Complicated Than 1?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by HappyDude20, Jun 7, 2015.

  1. HappyDude20 macrumors 68030

    HappyDude20

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    #1
    Okay so obviously the title is a bit contrived but I'm in the process of creating two businesses. (I'm not looking for solid legal advice, just guidance in the right direction)

    One business is set up to make money, obviously. The second business is more of wanting to trademark and copyright my work and videos. Two different businesses, two different names; both online based.

    Business #1: A consulting business in which i'm the sole owner w/o employees and offer my services both online and in person across the U.S. For the sake of this thread lets call the business Richie Rich. I'm wanting to trademark and legally incorporate this business.

    Business #2: This is more of just a YouTube channel and website in which i wish to protect my business name (Lets call it, Sexy Talk) and offer a forum for say relationship and sex advice. This one isn't intended on making money just yet. Really a side project I wish to have and don't want people to steal the name and the area i'm focusing on.

    I'm wondering if it would be best to register two business in the state of California, or if it would be better to nest business #2 within Business #1. The thing is, if I do that i'll have to list that Sexy Time is owned by Richie Rich LLC, which looks a bit weird considering both businesses are not really related with each other.

    Look i'm just wanting to converse about this. I know MacRumors isn't the place for legal advice but the truth is I like all you tech nerds and you've been a great avenue for discussions for the past years. Thanks!

    PS; perhaps I can still trademark names without setting up a business for them but i'm sure in the future both of these businesses will rake in some money so I figured it will probably be best to protect myself legally from the beginning.
     
  2. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #2
    Why not create a third business solely as a holding company for both businesses? That way they will have no connection with each other, other than through the holding company, and, if you create any further businesses down the line, the 'master' company can hold those, too.
     
  3. HappyDude20 thread starter macrumors 68030

    HappyDude20

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    #3
    Thank you so much for the reply.

    I think this may be what I'm looking for, however in complete honesty I'm not well versed when it comes to holding companies so I'll have to research and read further on the topic before continuing forward.

    With that being said, if I did go with a third holding company in which my Richie Rich and Sexy Time reside in, I'd imagine I'd call it my actually name John Smith LLC. Or perhaps that may be problematic?

    Would there be a limit as to how many businesses can reside within a holding company? I'm assuming there has to be yearly fees for having a holding company aside from the already recurring yearly fees and regulations I'll have to upkeep with my businesses #1 & #2.
     
  4. chown33 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Sailing beyond the sunset
    #4
    I don't think you need multiple businesses or business entities in order to register trademarks. I'm pretty sure you will, however, have to use the trademarks in trade, i.e. as a business resource. Trademarks are "use it or lose it"; I think the term of art is "abandonment". Read some basic trademark info. There are websites that focus on US trademarks, or try the Wikipedia article on the subject.

    As to multiple businesses, holding companies, etc. you should first have a firm idea of the following:
    1. What do you expect to gain from this?
    2. What costs ($, time, effort, etc.) do you expect to incur?
    3. Are the costs worth it for the expected gains?

    Some of the questions may seem obvious, but they're more subtle than they seem. For example, if you expected to gain the ability to register multiple trademarks in different areas of trade, then you should write that down. Now, if in the process of researching trademarks it becomes clear that you don't need multiple business entities in order to hold trademarks, then that negates the purpose of the business. That is, if there's no legal need to create a business in order to hold a trademark, then there is no actual gain from creating a business simply to hold a trademark. Likewise, if you learn that you must actually use the trademark in the business area for which it's registered, then it follows that simply creating a business is insufficient; you must also operate it using the trademark in a business-like manner, which means defending infringement.

    You should research trademarks and their use on your own, possibly consulting with a trademark attorney to learn exactly what's needed to retain the trademark. You should first make the list of what you expect to gain, what costs you expect, etc. because those are things you will also want to discuss with an attorney or a tax accountant.
     
  5. ejb190 macrumors 65816

    ejb190

    #5
    I think you have two different issues here. First is business structure. Second is intellectual property/trademark protections.

    When it comes to businesses, there are only three reasons to go to anything beyond a sole proprietorship: 1) Tax Advantages, 2) Liability Protection, and 3) Inheritance and Trust Considerations. (And #3 is iffy.) At your stage, there aren't many advantages in any of those areas. Starting a business is as simple as opening a checking account under the name "Joe Smith DBA Smith Plumbing". Talk to a CPA who specializes in business, especially if you are going into a business that collects sales tax or has other tax considerations. My wife and I owned two businesses (one was retail) and our CPA kept us from making several huge mistakes.

    On the trademarks, they are difficult to police and expensive to enforce. One of the things about the internet is the ability to tie up a name. Let's say I wanted to start a new website called "MacRumors". One of my first problems would be available URL's because Arn owns the most obvious - "MacRumors.com". I wouldn't be surprised if he also owns a few variations like .net. So that gives MacRumors a functional protection to the name without having a trademark in place. I think chown33 hit the nail on the head. You might want to drop $100 bucks or so and talk to an attorney. A couple of questions to seriously ask: Is this able to be trademarked and is it worth trademarking?
     

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