Make Sure Your Proposed Business Name Is Available

Find out if your desired business name is free for you to use.

now that you ‘ve picked the perfective business name, can you go ahead and use it ? not without doing your homework first. You must make certain that you are n’t treading on person else ‘s rights to the name .

Why You Should Check if a Business Name is Available

To stay out of trouble, familiarize yourself with the basics of hallmark law, which prevents a occupation from using a name that is likely to be confused with the name of a competing business. If you choose a clientele name that ‘s excessively alike to a rival ‘s list, you might find yourself accused of violating the rival ‘s legal rights ( called “ brand violation “ or “ unfair competition ” ), and you could be forced to change your business name and possibly pay money damages .
There ‘s entirely one way to ensure that you wo n’t violate person else ‘s hallmark rights : Do some grok to find out whether another clientele is already using a identify that ‘s identical or like to the one you want to use.

Conducting a Name Search

unfortunately, there ‘s no one rate to look when searching for conflicting business names. In large character, this is because a business can establish a hallmark simply by using it — and millions do equitable that. You must use different search tactics to hunt for both registered and unregistered trademarks. hera ‘s how :

1. Quick Screening Search

Before you invest besides much clock and money in a formal list search, take a few minutes to cursorily screen out some of the names on your tilt. Type a name you ‘re thinking of using into your front-runner search engine. You can quickly see whether person else on the internet is using a exchangeable name to market alike products or services .

2. Fictitious Name Databases

first, check with your county clerk ‘s function to see whether your desire diagnose is already on the number of fabricated, doing business as ( “ DBA ” ), or assumed business names in your county. ( In a few states, there is equitable one statewide fabricated name database — if that ‘s the case in your department of state, your county clerk will tell you. )
This tilt will contain names that you wo n’t find in any other database — normally unregistered trademarks of very small companies. If you find that your chosen name ( or a very alike name ) is listed on a local assumed or assumed list register, you should n’t use it .

3. Corporation, LLC, and Limited Partnership Name Databases

If you ‘re organizing your business as a pot, LLC, or limit partnership, you must be sure your commercial enterprise name is n’t the lapp as that of an existing pot, LLC, or limited partnership in your country. Contact your state file office to find out how to search their name database. If your proposed name ( or a very exchangeable one ) shows up in your state ‘s database, you ‘ll have to choose another .
Examples of state business mention search tools include :

4. Unregistered Business Names

The Internet. The internet is a dependable place to start your search for unregistered business names. By completing a dim-witted internet search, you can cursorily see whether and how person else is using a particular list.

Social Media. Check for your occupation identify on popular social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. even if you do not plan on using one of the platforms for your own business, taking this dance step will allow you to see if another occupation is already using the name .
Domain Name Search. Another easy means to look for business names online is to go to a domain name search, such as Google Domains, and key in variations of the name you want to use. If another party has reserved a domain list that contains your desire business name, chances are you wo n’t be able to use it, assuming the domain name qualifies as a hallmark — and it will ampere long as the underlying web site is used commercially .
For more information on conflicts between knowledge domain names and trademarks, see Nolo ‘s article Domain Names and Trademarks FAQ .

5. Registered Trademarks

ultimately, everyone starting a commercial enterprise, no matter how small, should search the federal trademark database to determine whether the name they want to use has already been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ( USPTO ) .
Avoid liability for “willful infringement.” If you use a trademark that ‘s on the federal file and the brand owner sues you, you can be liable for what ‘s called froward violation — that is, wittingly violating person else ‘s hallmark, even though you did n’t actually check the union database. willful violation carries more dearly-won penalties than other types of hallmark violations. Plus, it ‘s easily to search for federally registered trademarks .
Use the USPTO’s free trademark database. You can search for federally registered trademarks by using the dislodge trademark database on the USPTO ‘s web site. To start, go to the USPTO ‘s Trademark Electronic Business Center and choose “ Search trademark. ” then follow the instructions you see on the riddle .
Check state trademark databases. In summation to checking the federal brand register, it ‘s a good estimate to check your state ‘s brand database. The express register is much part of the repository of submit ‘s office, though in some states it has a department of its own. Check with your Secretary of State or Corporations Division for more information.

How do I find available business names? If you have a business identify in mind, you can find out if it ‘s available by completing a general internet search, checking your country and county business name databases, and searching the USPTO ‘s trademark database. As explained above, be sure to search for both read and unregistered occupation names .
What do I do if my desired business name is taken? If another clientele is using your desire name, it ‘s best to find a unlike name arsenic soon as you can. As your commercial enterprise grows, it will merely become more challenging to change your company ‘s commercialize materials and post. For tips on how to find a newfangled clientele identify, check out Choosing a Business Name FAQ .
Can two businesses have the same name? In restrict circumstances, two businesses that do not compete with each other can have the same name. however, if a business is in the same geographic location, or it sells alike goods or services, you would likely be infringing on their brand if your company uses the same name. Further, if a company name is considered celebrated or long-familiar, it has broader protective covering and no other business can use the mark, regardless of the industry or localization. overall, to avoid running into legal problems down the line, it ‘s best to avoid using another company ‘s business name. For more information, see Is It Trademark Infringement If Someone Uses My Company ‘s diagnose for a Different Business ? .

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Category : Finance

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