How to use Special Terms in your LLC’s Name

As you may know, there are naming rules (Section 204 NY limited liability company law) when it comes to choosing a name for your LLC.  Most  names are o.k. if not already taken by somebody else, but some terms are tricky and require special dispensation.

For example, try filing articles of organization for this LLC:  "Life Exchange, LLC".  You will get a nice letter from the Department of State informing you that they are unable to file this name, because it is not allowed to use "exchange" in the name of an LLC without the approval of the Attorney General.  And they are right; it says here in Section 204(h) NY limited liability company law:

"The name of each limited liability company as set forth in its articles of organization [……] shall not, unless the approval of the attorney general is attached to the articles organization […….] contain the word "exchange" or any abbreviation or derivative thereof.  Such approval shall not be granted by the Attorney General if in his or her opinion the use of the word "exchange" in the limited liability company’s proposed name would falsely imply that the limited liability company conducts its business at a place where trade is carried on in securities or commodities by brokers, dealers or merchants."

Is that the end of your name?  No, you can go ahead, write a letter to the Attorney General and describe the business you are planning to conduct under the name "Life Exchange, LLC".  I am assuming it’s some kind of life coaching, re-birthing center type of activity.  If you explain it right, there should be no doubt that you are not trying to establish a New York stock exchange in your backyard and they will happily give you the approval.

Many people have successfully done it already, as you can find out by searching the New York State corporate database with the term "exchange."  There are plenty of businesses using the term "exchange" that have nothing to do with trading stocks or commodities.

**This post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice**

About Imke Ratschko


Imke Ratschko is a New York Attorney helping small businesses, business owners and entrepreneurs with all things "Small Business Law," such as litigation, contracts, business owner disputes, shareholder and operating agreements, sale or purchase of a business, investors, and starting a business. You can reach her at 212.253.1027 or by email.