Finding LLC available names when forming an LLC is one of the first steps to make to ensure you are choosing an acceptable name that is unique to your business and meets all of your state's requirements.

Business Name Availability Search

Performing a complete name availability search for your potential business is not necessarily an easy task. In the United States, a business has the ability to establish a trademark by using the name, whether it is in an official or unofficial capacity. In order to successfully complete your business name availability search, there are five steps you should follow:

  1. Perform a basic screening search.
  2. Search a fictitious name database.
  3. Search your state's filing office.
  4. Search unregistered business names.
  5. Search the federal/state trademark database.

Business Name Availability Search – Step One

Prior to digging deep with a detailed search, your first plan of action should be to perform a basic screening search. To perform a basic search, just go to any search engine online and search for the business name. By doing a preliminary search this way, you can easily see if another business is using the name you have chosen. You will also be able to determine whether there are any businesses marketing the same or similar type of product.

Business Name Availability Search – Step Two

The next step in your search should be to look at fictitious name databases. You can search these databases through your state or your county. For example, you can search the fictitious name database for the state of Florida here. Registered fictitious names are names that other businesses have as designated “doing business as” names.

It is not uncommon for small businesses to register a fictitious business name without taking the additional step of registering the trade mark or of even putting it online. If your search reveals a business name the same as or similar to the one you are considering, you should reconsider using the name.

Business Name Availability Search – Step Three

If you have chosen to operate your business as an LLC, corporation, or limited partnership, it is necessary to perform a search with your state's filing office. Performing this search will ensure that the name you want to use has not already been chosen by another LLC, corporation, or limited partnership.

Business Name Availability Search— Step Four

The fourth step is to find unregistered business names. To complete a search for an unregistered business name, you can use the Thomas Register. The Thomas Register is a website that has a database full of both registered and unregistered trademarks.

Business Name Availability Search— Step Five

Finally, when conducting a name availability search, you should search the federal government's database of registered trademarks. This database includes all trademarks registered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. By checking this database, you can avoid any potential claims of willful infringement on trademark rights. If you are found to have willfully infringed upon a business's trademark rights, you may be subject to substantial penalties.

You will also want to check the database of registered trademarks for the state which you are planning to form your business in, and also any other states in which you may plan to do business. Often, a small business will only protect itself from trademark infringement within its home state, so it may not apply for federal trademark protection. By searching the state database in addition to the federal database, you are further protecting yourself from any liability for willful trademark infringement.

Options for Choosing an LLC Name

Depending on the state you are operating in, there are certain requirements and restrictions which vary by state. It is important to choose an acceptable and descriptive LLC name in order to help ensure your business's success. Be sure to keep in mind these three considerations when choosing the name of your LLC:

  • Choose an LLC name that is easy to spell—Having an easy-to-spell name for your LLC enables people to find your business more easily
  • Choose a short LLC name—It is easier for people to remember shorter names, and also easier for people to refer your business to others
  • Choose a positive connotation for your LLC name—Remember, you want people to have positive feelings when they hear your business name.

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