How to Check Business Name Availability

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How to Check Business Name Availability

Learn how to check to see if the name for a business is available with this easy, step-by-step how to guide.

1. 

Check DBA registrations.

1.1 

Determine whether you are a sole proprietor or partnership.

Determine whether you are a sole proprietor or partnership.

If you are a sole proprietor or partnership and your business name differs from the full, legal name of the business owner, then you are required to file for a Doing Business As (DBA) name. This is a secondary, fictitious name that is different from the company's legal name, as sole proprietors and partnerships are not registered as corporations, and therefore not required to file entity formation papers.

1.2 

Check for DBA availability at your Secretary of State website.

Check for DBA availability at your Secretary of State website.

Trademark infringement laws still apply to DBAs, however, so if you are a sole proprietor or partnership, you need to check for DBA availability with your Secretary of State.

2. 
2.1 

Check the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office.

Check the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office.

The U.S. Trademark and Patent Office has a searchable trademark database that allows business owners to see if a trademark has been registered or applied for. Start by searching the business name.

The search will inform you of three things: whether there is a similar trademark if it is used on related products or services, and whether it is currently live. Meeting all three criteria will result in a refusal of your trademark so as to avoid confusion.

Failure to check the trademark office can result in an intellectual property lawsuit, so you want to do this.

States differ in their naming requirement laws, so check the specific requirements that apply to your state.

2.2 

Think of the different ways your name could be spelled or phrased.

Think of the different ways your name could be spelled or phrased.

A business name could exist in many forms. Try out different spellings and styles when you search for it, as something similar might come up.

3. 

Check the LLC registry.

3.1 

Go to your state's LLC registry website.

Go to your state's LLC registry website.

If you are incorporating as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), you should check your state's LLC registry. Go to your secretary of state's website and conduct a business name search. This will tell you if there is an LLC registered with that name in your state.

4. 

Google it.

4.1 

Search for the name on Google.

Search for the name on Google.

While Googling your business name is no sure-fire way of discerning its availability, it is a useful first step. Businesses often have websites, Facebook accounts, and Twitter profiles using their name, so a quick search will likely tell you if that name is in use.

Bear in mind that results are not conclusive. A website or social media account does not mean that name is registered, nor does a lack of results mean the name is available. Always check the trademark office for confirmation.

Key rules to follow.

  • States differ in their naming requirement laws, so check the specific requirements that apply to your state.
  • Always check for trademark rights, even if you're only filing for a DBA or registering a domain.
  • Don't try to beat the system. Adding an "s" or making slight adjustments to an already existing business name will land you in trouble.

How to Trademark a Name

Find out what you need to do to trademark your new business name.

How to Register a Business Name

Learn how to register a business name with our step-by-step guide.

FAQs:

How do I check if a brand name is available?

  • Check DBA registrations.
  • Do a trademark business name search.
  • Check the LLC registry.
  • Google it.

How do I know if a business name is available in Colorado?

  • Search the local Secretary of State office website. Be sure to include any terms or abbreviations like “Ltd,” “Inc.”, and “LLC.”
  • Call them at (303)-894-2200.
  • Email them at business@sos.state.co.us.

Where can I check if a business name is taken for free?

Most resources for checking business name availability are free. This includes the United States Patent and Trademark Office's trademark database and state LLC registries.

How do I find out if a business name is available in Australia?

  1. Go to the ASIC Connect website.
  2. Click the "Search now" button.
  3. Select the "Search business names register" tab.
  4. Select 'Business Names Index' from the drop down menu.
  5. Enter the ABN or name of the business you're looking for.
  6. Find your business name in the list.

How much does it cost to register a business name in Australia?

It will cost you $36 for 1 year or $85 for 3 years for each business name you register.

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