Monday, April 26, 2010

Respecting Hockey, LCCs and Trademarks

Dear Rich: I am starting a new website called I was planning on doing an online radio show, a blog, and possibly a video blog live as well. I have seen many similar sites have a 'inc.' , or 'llc' on the bottom of it, and then the name of the site is a trademark. I am not looking to make money. I just want to promote the game and I was a journalism major. What do you recommend? I was thinking 'kd products llc,' and then 'respect hockey' or 'respect hockey talk radio' as the trademark. We had to change the wording in your question because we have a reader who is rightfully displeased to see 'trademark' used as a verb. (We wish we could include him in our blog links but alas, the people who maintain this blog operate with the speed of hibernating marmots.) 
Right, you had a question. Just in case you're not aware, the LLC and "Inc" suffixes are not alphabetic accessories that you can simply add on to the name of your company. You must file papers and pay fees in order to qualify as a corporation (Inc.) or Limited Liability Company (LLC). Both types of entities can shield the owners from liability but they have different tax implications and legal requirements. The thing of it is, there's no sense forming either one if you're not looking to make money (unless you intend to operate as a nonprofit which is a whole other set of rules and procedures). By the way, these entities can be expensive to maintain. For example, the minimum annual LLC fees in California are $800 a year.
As for your choice of trademark ...  We're not sure you have a clear concept of how trademarks work. Currently nobody has registered "RESPECT HOCKEY" with the USPTO for any purposes. But in case you're unaware, a trademark is intended for use in commerce which means you're operating as a business ... so again we're back to the part of you not wanting to make any money.
Hobby or Business. If this is strictly a hobby, we would also note that decision also affects your taxes as the IRS treats hobbies in a less advantageous manner than a business. The Dear Rich Staff thinks you need a mini-primer in maintaining a small business and if we weren't so concerned about the implications of FTC disclaimer rules, we'd recommend some of our own books on the subject.