A Name isn’t Everything– And Not Always Available under the Business Corporation Law of New York.

So, you are an entrepreneur, a small business trying to distinguish yourself from the crowd. You pick a name, say, “The Chocolate Library,” and you think you are good. But, under the New York State Business Corporation Law, such a name may not be available.

“Libraries” are generally known as a collection of books and other materials for reading and study. In a clever play off the traditional definition, an East Village boutique tried using the name The Chocolate Library, and hoped to register the name to describe the store’s large assortment of chocolate, including various international brands, origins, types, and tastes.

Effective July 2005, however, the use of school-related words such as ‘library,’ ‘school,’ academy,’ ‘institute,’ and ‘kindergarten,’ in a certificate of incorporation by any New York business is barred unless there is prior consent from the education commissioner.

In this case, the state education department declined to approve The Chocolate Library’s application essentially reasoning that there is a likelihood that children will be confused by the use of the word ‘library.’ The Chocolate Library’s owner, has been quoted in Diner’s Journal saying, “This is ridiculous. No one is coming in here confusing us as a library. It’s an arcane law that doesn’t really affect anybody.” Bennett’s counsel is currently appealing the department’s decision.

Bottom Line– Research the law before you expend money on the name (get it?).