Montana Secretary of State Can't Help Businesses

Secretary Stapleton States that Use of Name is Business's Problem

April 20, 2018

As part of his Things That Matter tour, Montana Secretary of State, Corey Stapleton, visited Butte, Montana yesterday. According to Secretary Stapleton's web site, the Things That Matter tour is supposed to be outreach to "help commerce thrive in every town."

Montana is our nation's fourth largest state. It makes sense to travel outside the capital city to better understand the businesses and people who make Montana tick! "Things that Matter" is the Secretary of State's outreach tour that does just that-spending time in every county, promoting democracy to all ages, helping commerce thrive in every town, and immersing in the unique cultures of each Montana community.

Business owners and community leaders are invited to these events where, according to the Secretary of State's invitations, Secretary Stapleton wants to talk about what can be done to improve businesses and the business environment, what the Secretary of State's office can do to help businesses and make things easier for businesses in Montana (and particularly at the location currently being visited), and what hardships area businesses are experiencing and how businesses can work together to overcome those issues, or how the Secretary's office can help businesses overcome those issues.

However, when asked by one of the business leaders present - an individual invited by Secretary Stapleton to ask questions and voice concerns - what could be done about other individuals or organizations using the same name to promote other business ventures, the Secretary responded that there wasn't anything the Secretary of State could do about that, and it was up to the business to handle it.

When the business owner asked the follow-up question, "What is the benefit, then, of having to register a business with the Secretary of State with a unique name," or argue why the name is not confusingly similar to a name already in use when you do register a new business, and why businesses have to file annually and pay a fee to the State for that filing to keep their business, the Secretary responded that he guessed there really wasn't any benefit to registering your business or filing your annual report.

Update, January 14, 2019

I was informed today on the telephone by Laurie Bakri in the Secretary of State's office that Secretary Stapleton did not say that, because, "that does not sound like what he would say."

However, I was able to confirm, after speaking to her, that, in the words of the business owner who asked the question, "NO...he said just that."