To register a business name, check whether the name is available for use, present it to your state’s Secretary of State, and register the trademark with the federal government. By registering your business name with the state’s Secretary of State, you prevent other businesses from using the same name.
To find out whether your business name is available to use in your state, check the database of company names operating in your state. If you are planning to expand your business to another state, use the free search tool offered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to check whether your business name is available to use nationwide.
If your business is a limited partnership, corporation or Limited Liability Company, the state should register your business name automatically. However, if your business has been registered automatically but is operating under a different name, you are required to file a Fictitious Name Statement, sometimes called Doing Business As, or DBA.
A business is also required to file a fictitious name if it does not intend to include “Limited Liability Company” or “LLC” in its name. For example, if a company has been registered as “Sherry Home Design LLC” but ceases to use the suffix “LLC” and instead opts for “Sherry Home Design and Plumbing Solutions,” it is required to file a fictitious name statement.