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Some Free Resources to Check Whether a Business Name is Taken

written by: Mridula B•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 5/21/2010

As soon as you get the "perfect" name for your business, you must check whether the business name is already taken. This article offers you with some free business name check tools and tips so that you can check if a business name is already taken.

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    Check Whether a Business Name is Taken- Don’t Infringe Trademarks

    It is obvious that you cannot use a name that is already taken. Moreover, you should not use a name that’s too similar to any of your competitors' names. Using a business name that confuses consumers with your competitors' business may end up with trademark infringement charges against you. These charges may force you to change your business name and even pay for damages!

    To save yourself from such a situation, do good research. Make sure you’re not encroaching into anyone's legal rights.

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    Free Business Name Check Tools- Check If a Business Name is Taken

    Google Search with the Business Name

    There is no better way to begin checking if a business name is taken than a Google search. Every business tries to be listed in Google's search results. Search in Google with your proposed business name. The results will list all who are using the name on the web. You may even include your state or city in the search to see if someone is using it in your area too.

    You can also use other search engines, like Bing, before moving ahead.

    Fictitious Name Databases

    Another place to check is with the county clerk's office of the county where you plan to operate your business. Searching this list helps you find even tiny organizations that carry the same name.

    Check with Secretary of State

    Check with Secretary of State to make sure that no one in the area has the same name that you have in mind - for your business. You may contact your state’s Secretary of State using any of the following links:

    http://www.northwestregisteredagent.com/secretary-of-state.html

    http://www.secstates.com/NY_New_York_Secretary_of_State_Corporation_Search/

    State Filling Office

    Check with State Filling Office if they have any LLC, limited partnership or corporation registered with a similar name that you are considering for your business.

    USPTO's Free Trademark Database

    It is also important to search for federally registered trademarks. You can do it using the free trademark database on the USPTO's website.

    Other Free Resources:

    You can search other Internet free databases like http://www.hoovers.com/free or http://www.thomasnet.com and see if they have a business listed with same or similar name you plan to use.

    The following page offers you tips to analyze these search results. It also details cases where you can use an existing business name.

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    Check Whether a Business Name is taken - Strategy Once you Complete the Searches

    If you find that your business name is unique and is not being used by anyone, you can straightaway begin the process of registration. If the name is being used by someone, you can still use it without infringing anyone’s rights.

    When NOT to Use an “Already in Use” Business Name

    Do not infringe trademarks. If your desired name is a federally registered trademark, do not use it. The owners of a federal trademark owners have right to use the name anywhere in country and you might land up in a lawsuit with a biggie!

    When to USE an “Already in Use” Business Name

    Sometimes it is okay to use a name that’s already being used. If the other company offers some other services or products that your business won't, you may use the name. If the other business is located in some other area - very far from your place - you can use the business name.

    If someone in Utah is running a garage with the name like Vroom it doesn’t mean you can’t use Vroom as name for your carpet cleaning business in Georgia. To sum up, your business name should not cause any confusion with any of the running businesses in your area or with any multinational company.

    Note: If you are using a name that’s already in use, please be extra careful and ensure that you are not treading into someone's trademark rights.

    After you are done with the free business name check and analysis, I would recommend two things:

    1. Avoid using a business name which is taken, no matter even if in a remote place to avoid any future conflicts
    2. Register your business name as a trademark. This avoids anyone benefiting from your business name and gives your business a unique brand name which can’t be stolen.