A complete name availability search requires you (or your lawyer) to conduct the following searches on your proposed name.
- Initial internet screening using popular search engines to look for businesses using your name that are operating in a similar industry
- Search county and state websites for registered voluntary assumed names that conflict with your proposed name
- Check your Secretary of State’s database of existing LLCs, limited partnerships and corporations
- Visit registrars like Whois.com to conduct a domain name search
- Complete a search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website (uspto.gov) for matches and state trademark databases
When conducting the searches, you must look not only for exact matches but also for similar names that could confuse consumers about who is offering the product or service. Each state may have a different legal standard for name conflicts.
If you want to make sure your name check is done correctly and that you won’t have a problem after you’ve spent substantial money building a website and printing marketing collateral, you’d be well served by having an experienced business lawyer first conduct the name search on your behalf before you start any branding efforts.
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