Checking for Business Name Availability

Prior to forming a business, it is necessary to determine the name of your business. This may seem like an easy process, but it is necessary to research if the desired name for your new business is already in use by another business. If you select a name that is identical or similar to another established business, especially if the other business is a competitor, it could result in a lawsuit against you and cause disruption of your business activities.

How to Check Business Name Availability

There are several ways to find out if the desired name for your business is available. Most businesses have websites and a good place to start your business name search is through your favorite search engine. This is an effective and free way to begin your search.

If you are incorporating your business, or organizing it as an LLC or LLP, contact your state filing office for information on registered businesses.

Some businesses trademark their business name, which means that the business uses items such as words presented in a specific format or symbols to identify their business. These trademarks are most often registered and can be searched for on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. There are also websites that can assist you in determining if your desired corporate trademark is already in use, such as Corpnet.

Another resource for checking business name availability is Networksolutions.com, which is a list of reserved or used domain names. Business name searches can also be done in directories like Info Space, Info USA, or Super Pages, which are helpful to determine if your desired business name is already in use by another business. An added plus is that they are free.

Unregistered Trademarks

Many businesses have unregistered trademarks that they just use as their name and have not registered formally as their trademark. However, these businesses still have legal rights to their name. Check your county clerk’s office or statewide fictitious or assumed business names list. These lists will help you find out if your name conflicts with unregistered business names. Again, there are websites, such as Corpnet, that can help you determine the availability of your desired corporate trademark.

Getting Help

Consulting a trademark attorney is advisable if you need assistance with selecting a business name or protecting a business name.