How to Check If a Business Name Is Taken

While you may have the perfect idea for the product/service and a business name to match, it’s important to confirm the uniqueness of the name before you can set up a company. We’ll show you how to quickly check business name availability.

Choosing a business name for your new venture or project is a long-term commitment. You need to ensure that your business name will receive a positive response in your industry, resonate with your audience, and represent the kind of brand you’re building.

But what if the perfect name for your business is already taken? 

We’ll show you how to check whether your business name is taken so you can confidently settle on the one of your choice.

How to See if a Business Name Is Taken 

The steps to check the availability of a business name are as follows:

  1. Check if a business name is trademarked.
  2. Conduct online and offline research.
  3. Do a business name database search in your state.
  4. Do a “Doing Business As” (DBA) Search.

The above steps are for checking availability in the US. The process will differ depending on the country in which you are setting up a business. For more information, contact your local government.

Step 1: Check if a Business Name Is Trademarked

You can check whether a name is trademarked in the database of the United States Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO) if you’re in the US. Having a trademarked business name is highly important for business name exclusivity. 

With a trademarked name, no one will confuse your goods or services with other companies. In case someone tries to pose as your company, you will have a legal right to file a lawsuit against them. 

In the UK, you can use the trade mark checker to see if a name is trademarked. 

If you are starting a business elsewhere, you can use the local trademark office. 

Step 2: Conduct Online and Offline Research

Besides looking for a trademark for the name you’re considering, you should also conduct your own research to see whether a business is already using that name. 

If a business uses the same name as you in the same field, it might confuse your customers. In turn, this also gives a legal basis for your competitor to sue you even if they don’t have a trademark already.

It’s also worth looking into business name variations. Search for your potential brand name online to see what’s associated with it. 

You should search for your brand name on Google, Facebook, Instagram, and any other major platform where you plan to promote your brand.

Step 3: Do a Business Name Database Search

Most countries have a national or regional database of registered business names. In the US, you can check with the Secretary of State’s office in each state. And in the UK, you can visit the government’s website and use their company name availability checker.

Another way is to look for a domain with an identical name. You can do this easily with our free Domain Name Generator. This smart generator tool will give you thousands of ideas for a new website name and automatically check whether the domain with this name is taken already. 

Check Domain Availability Below

Step 4: Do a “Doing Business As” Search

A DBA, or “Doing Business As,” is a pseudonym under which a business operates. This name is different from the legal name of the business owner or the officially registered business entity. 

Conducting a DBA search is critical in ensuring your proposed business name isn’t already in use. Visit your county clerk’s office or their online resources to search the DBA register.

If you’ve done your research and you don’t find any business name that might interfere with your future commercial activity, then you can use that name, register it, and protect it with a trademark.

How Can I Make My Business Name Official?

You don’t necessarily have to trademark your business name in order to run business activity under it. However, in the US, UK, and other territories, you do need to register a business if you start any sort of commercial activity, including the promotion of goods or services free of charge.

Once your business is registered, and you have a tax ID, you can legally run a business as an entrepreneur.

In the US, your registered business name doesn’t have to be the same as the public name of your business. 

For example, we all know of Wendy’s restaurants, but the actual business name is “The Wendy’s Company.” Using a DBA allowed the chain to create a shorter, more brandable name.

If you open a sole proprietorship business that you’ll be running by yourself, your business name can even be your own name or any name that hasn’t been registered yet, including similar variations.

You can pick a brand name for promoting your business and products publicly and register it as a trade name. This will work as a sort of nickname for your business that people will know it by.

It’s important to thoroughly research the process of setting up a company in the country where you want to operate. 

Why Is It Important to Check if a Company Name Is Available? 

If you promote a business or product name that’s trademarked by someone else, you can get into legal trouble. It’s not a great way to start out as an entrepreneur, and renaming your business later on can be an extremely costly process.

Even if the business name of your choice isn’t legally trademarked but is used by another brand, it may create a conflict in your marketing strategy. 

Brand Associations 

You also need to be aware of what people associate with a certain term or brand name. As an example, if your law firm name is the same or very similar to a brand name that’s known for promoting lingerie, it’s unlikely that people will take you seriously as a legal professional.

What Should I Do if My Business Name Is Taken?

Finding out that the perfect company name for your business or brand is already in use by someone else can be very disappointing. Before you throw away your dreams or get into a costly game of competition, consider giving a chance to other creative business ideas that might work even better for your brand.

Our Business Name Generator is a free tool you can use to get thousands of catchy business name ideas for your new venture. Enter the words that come to your mind about your business (and industry) and pick your favorite.

Do I Need to Trademark My Business Name?

You can run a business legally without any trademarks registered. However, a trademark helps you protect your brand from others copying your name, logo, and slogan. It also provides you with legal protection in case someone files a lawsuit against you.

MORE: How to Copyright A Business Name

Can Two Businesses Have the Same Name?

Yes, but it’s not always a favorable situation.

Two businesses that carry the same name might run the risk of being confused with one another. Technically, you can use the same business name as someone else as long as it’s not protected by a trademark, but it might still carry some legal consequences.

You can even use a trademarked name if you operate in a different location or industry.

For example, Finlandia cheese and Finlandia vodka come from two different companies. The same goes for Dove chocolate and Dove beauty products.

If someone files a lawsuit in the future against you or your company for using the same or a very similar name, they would first need to prove that the two businesses can indeed create confusion for the customer. 

If they can prove they used the name before you and your industry is similar to theirs, you might need to stop all business activity under that name. Renaming your business is usually a costly procedure, and you’ll likely lose a great chunk of your audience in the process.

This is why trademarks exist as protection for business names, logos, and slogans. 

Take the Stress Out of Starting a Business 

Not sure how to start your business? There are helpful services, such as GoDaddy Airo™ and Shopify, that can guide you from your initial idea to getting your business off the ground.

GoDaddy Airo™ makes things faster with AI. For the price of a domain name, it helps you find a business name, build your website, design a unique logo, register an LLC in the U.S., and even support your online and social media ads. 

Shopify is another option for starting and growing your business. It’s easy to use and intuitive for tech rookies. It can help you sell online, market your products or services, and keep everything running smoothly as your business grows.

Key Points 

Use a trademark checker and resources and tools from your local government to help you discover if it’s available. Also, do a thorough check online and offline for the brand name. Look for similar brand names, which could cause confusion in a crowded marketplace.

If you need help with additional brand names, use our Business Name Generator to do the hard work for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Conduct a preliminary search online using the business name search tool available on the Secretary of State's website for your state. You might need to contact a trademark attorney or use a professional name check service for a more thorough search.

You can find out if someone is using your business name by conducting an online search, checking the business name databases of your local Secretary of State, and doing a trademark search through the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database, by using the government’s trademark tool in the UK, or by contacting your local government for more information.

The best way to check if an LLC name is available is by searching your state's business name database, usually found on your state's Secretary of State website. You can also check the USPTO database for federal trademark registrations.

Typically, you can't use a company name if it's already being used in the same state or if it's trademarked. Doing so could lead to a legal dispute.

If you've registered your business name in your state and trademarked it with the USPTO in the US or the equivalent in your country, it should be protected and cannot be used by someone else in the same line of business.

You can check the availability of your business name on social media platforms by doing a username search on each platform (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). You may need to modify it slightly for your social media accounts if it's already in use.



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