How do I know if a company name has been taken?

Search for a Company or Business Name

Tips

Don’t search for words like “the” “company” “and” etc. Enter key words for your search eg. “Energy Sav” for “Energy Saver Windows” this will give you names beyond what you are searching.

It is important that you apply to register a name before printing stationery or commencing trading as we will undertake additional comprehensive and detailed searches on your behalf.

apply online or download an Application Form (pdf format 957KB).

Go to our How To Register section for more details.

You can also register an Incorporated Company (Ltd, Plc, Charityetc).

Every state has a secretary of state or other state agency that’s responsible for business entity filings. In most states, the website of the state business filing agency includes an online entity name check tool. You can use the online tool to search business names and find out whether another business is already using the name you have chosen.

If you find a business with a similar name, it’s a good idea to review your state’s specific business naming requirements to find out if the similarity will prevent you from using the name you want.

Checking DBAs

Just because there isn’t a business entity with the same name in your state doesn’t mean there are no similarly named local businesses. Corporations, LLCs, sole proprietors and partnerships may all operate under fictitious business names, or “DBAs.

Many localities require businesses that operate under a fictitious name to register a business name with the city or county. By checking these DBA registrations, you can find out whether there is another business in your area using the name you want to use.

A business that has registered a DBA may have common law trademark rights in the business name, and it may have established strong local name recognition that could make it harder to market your business.

Trademark Business Name Check

Businesses can obtain nationwide trademark protection by registering a business name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). When starting a new business, it’s a good idea to search the USPTO’s online database for trademarked business names that are similar to yours.

A trademarked business name can cause you problems if the name itself is similar to your business name, and if it has been registered as a trademark for a similar type of goods or services. If you conduct a search and are concerned that the name you want to use may violate someone else’s trademark, it’s worth getting advice from a trademark lawyer before you go any further.

General Business Name Availability Searches

A general internet search will help you evaluate whether another business has established a strong internet presence using the business name you’d like to use. A business that’s using your name online may have established common law or state law trademark rights in the name and may have already registered domain names and social networking profiles to match the business name – making it harder for you to market your business with the same name.

“Is my business name taken?” is an important question for new business owners to answer before they form a business entity or spend money on marketing. Taking the time to do a proper name search can save you a lot of hassle, time, and money later.