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So let’s assume my last name is Norton and I’m starting a publishing company. I want it to be “Nortons, Limited”. It is quite common to use plurals in company names — for example, Waterstones, Halfords.

However, I did a bit of research and didn’t find any media or publishing company that uses a plural last name. Instead, it’s usually something like “Norton Media”, but I don't like that.

Any help? Or should I stick with the “Nortons”?

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closed as off topic by MετάEd, Kris, tchrist, KitFox Feb 11 '13 at 13:50

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You can use any name you want for your company. English rules of word construction simply do not apply. "Google" isn't even a word at all. (Well, it's a misspelled word.) (Well, it's a word now, but wasn't when it was first used.)) This isn't a question of English. There is a question of law here, as issues of trademark arise. If you are interested in answers along those lines, you could try Answers OnStartups. –  MετάEd Feb 11 '13 at 5:20
    
Exactly - this is a trademark question. You should be more concerned how to make the company name more recognizable. –  speedyGonzales Feb 11 '13 at 7:45

1 Answer 1

Waterstones isn't strictly a plural, it's produced from what was originally a genitive; they changed their name from Waterstone's in 2012 by simply removing the apostrophe because they thought it looked better.

Since Halfords was named after a street named Halford Street, one could argue the same thing happened here.

Many company names that end in s were also genitive, but never using the apostrophe (of the various companies and chains set up around the world by Frank Winfield Woolworth and later inheritors, some where called Woolworth, some Woolworth's and some Woolworths, with the latter two just being stylistic choices).

Not that it really matters. People will likely think it came from "Norton's", but whatever it came from it will now be one name that is a proper noun referring to a single company. There are no grammatical issues here, just stylistic decisions. (And legal issues; set up in a line where an existing company has built a brand around the name "Norton", and you can expect them to sue you).

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Thanks for a detailed answer! I will probably stick to "Nortons". Not sure if to use the apostrophe (I don't like the look of it too). –  Alexander Ait Feb 11 '13 at 2:41

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