Staff Rules for Registration of Similar Trade Names

The State Bar makes every effort to avoid the registration of trade names that are the same or deceptively similar to trade names already registered by another lawyer. For purposes of the registration of a trade name with the North Carolina State Bar, a trade name is distinguishable from a trade name already registered by another lawyer if:

  • Each name contains one or more different letters or numerals, or has a different sequence of letters or numerals, except that adding or deleting the letter "s" to make a word plural, singular, or possessive shall not cause a name to be distinguishable;

Examples: Outer Banks Law vs. Outer Banks Lawyer

  • One name is a URL:

Raleigh Law Firm vs. www.raleighlawfirm.com

  • One of the key words is different. "Key word" means any word other than articles, prepositions, conjunctions, or entity identifiers such as "corporation," "incorporated," "company," etc.

Example: Family Legal vs. Family Law

  • The key words are the same, but they are in a different order;

Example: DUI Legal Assistance vs. Legal DUI Assistance

  • The key words are the same, but the spelling is creative, unusual, or artistic.

Example: Bankruptcy Mediation vs. Bankruptcy Medi8ion

  • The difference in key words is between how a number is expressed, as a numeral, Roman numeral, or word representing a numeral.

Example:  Number One Law Group vs. #1 Law Group

Not Distinguishable on Record

A trade name is not distinguishable from the name of any other registered trade name if the names only differ in one or more of the following ways:

  • Tags at the end of URLs—.org, .com, or .net. blog

Example: www.theraleighlawfirm.com vs. www.theraleighlawfirm.net

  • Entity identifiers at the end of a name

Example: Raleigh Traffic Law vs. Raleigh Traffic Law, Inc.

  • Differences in punctuation: Apostrophe, left bracket, right bracket, colon, comma, dash or hyphen, exclamation point, left parenthesis, right parenthesis, period, question mark, semicolon, and slash.

Example: D.W.I. Attorney vs. DWI Attorney

  • Differences in the use of special characters: Asterisk, backslash, left brace, right brace, caret, at sign, cents sign, dollar sign, equal-to sign, greater than, less than, number sign, percentage sign, plus sign, underline, and ampersand.

Example:  Jones Elder and Family Law vs. Jones Elder & Family Law

  • Differences in capitalization

Example: TrafficLaw vs. TRAFFICLAW

  • The presence or absence of an article, preposition, or conjunction, or a symbol for that word, including "a," "an," "and," "at," "by," "for," "in," "plus," "the," "to," and "with." Examples of symbols include "&," "@," and "+."

Example:  Jones Elder and Family Law vs. The Jones Elder and Family Law

  • Differences between the singular and plural forms of words.

Example:  Triangle Criminal Lawyer vs. Triangle Criminal Lawyers

  • Differences in whether the words or numbers are joined together, or a space separates them.

Example: Homeowner Legal Help vs. Home Owner Legal Help

  • Differences in abbreviations.

Example: Workers Compensation Legal Assistance vs. Workers Comp. Legal Assistance

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