Q:

How do you know if you can use a business name?

A:

Quick Answer

To find out if a business name can be used, check with the state's filing office, search a fictitious name database and conduct a trademark search, as instructed by FindLaw. Avoid using a business name if it is trademarked or being used by another major company in the same industry.

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Full Answer

If the business may become an LLC, limited partnership or corporation, the business owner should consult the database at the state's filing office, as recommended by FindLaw. A business name should not be used if the same name or a similar name is already in use. Check the fictitious name database with the local county or state government to see if the business name has been registered. Although business owners can choose to move forward with a name even if it is registered, they should think twice about using it to avoid a potential dispute.

Business owners should also search the federal government's listing of registered trademarks through the United States Patent and Trademark Office, according to FindLaw. They should check the databases in every state in which they plan to do business to avoid a willful trademark infringement lawsuit. Additionally, business owners should conduct an online search for unregistered business names using Google, Network Solutions and The Thomas Register.

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