Why Should you Check?
Making sure your company name is available right at the start could save you a lot of heartache, stress, and cash down the line.
Not only are there legal implications to using a name already registered by someone else, but you will find that having a name similar or the same as another person’s business name can be detrimental to your business.
For example, you are starting a business that creates and sells lights, you might choose the name ‘De Lux Lighting’ playing on the latin meaning of the word Lux which is light. However, someone already has the name Deluxe Lights and they have already established web traffic and solid SEO. This means that when it comes to finding you online you are competing on Google against a well established website with a similar company name and domain. This will make it harder for you to rank on Google and you will likely end up losing business that could have come to you to them.
Three parts to Checking A Company Names Availability
#1 Check for the Trademark
Trademark infringement can carry a high cost for your business. If you choose a name and start trading under it before checking if the trademark is taken and you infringe on someone else’s trademark you are liable to pay damages. They can sue you and force you to stop trading with that name.
This would likely be costly and if you had built up any form of brand recognition already it would mean starting to build your brand and business again from scratch.
You can check for trademark availability online with your local government site. For example in the US you would use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark search tool to see if a similar name, or variations of it, is trademarked. In the UK you would check with Companies House, they have a search tool too.
If you find that the name you have chosen is taken, then you will have to head back to the drawing board and come up with a different name.
#2 Check for Similar or the Same Domain
Begin by running a few simple searches on Google. Don’t just look for exact matches but explore similar words and phrases as well.
What you are looking for is firstly that no one else has your company domain name, but secondly that no one has a similar name that would either be in direct competition with or are part of a business that would reflect badly on yours. For example, you are starting a lumber company which you want to call ‘John’s Hardwood Services’, you do a search and find a similar name comes up for a male escort service. So, you decide it would be best to choose a different name.
To check whether or not a domain name is available, you can use our domain name generator which appears on our Business Name Generator results page.
This instantly scans the internet for you and let’s you know if the domain you want is taken, as well as suggesting other TLDs and extensions you could use.
#3 Check for Social Media Availability
The final check you will want to do is for social media handles. Ideally you want your social media handles to match your company name. However, this isn’t necessary, just preferable. Failing that, you want to keep your social handles similar to your name, and the same across all your social media channels that you are going to use.
Choosing handles that are the same across all the major social channels will make you easier to find online which in the long run will help you build followers, brand identity and company growth.
Start by deciding where you will be building your web presence. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Medium, LinkedIn etc. Even if you don’t plan to use all of them to begin with, maybe you’re just going to start out on Facebook and Instagram for example, you may want to expand onto other platforms at a later date. Claiming your handle early is free and will secure that name for you until such a time as you do decide on using it.
The first and most important thing fo you to do is check for trademarks as this will have legal implications that could be very costly for you and cause your business to shut down.
If you are uncertain about best practices you should seek legal advice. For more information on How to Trademark a Business Name you can read this blog.