1. Overview
2. How to Come Up With the Name
3. Business Name Availability       
4. Trademark Law
5. Name Searching            
6. Similar or Identical Names        
7. Registering Your Own Trademark          

Are your chosen LLC names available? The answer to this question can make a dramatic difference in the life of your business and deserves a thorough investigation. 

Overview

Choosing the right business name is crucial for LLC owners. The name you choose for your business must be unique and descriptive of the goods and services provided. The name should be easy to remember and pronounce, and it must meet your state's naming requirements.

The time and effort spent on choosing the best name possible will pay off in the future. Though you can always change the name later, it will require more time and effort and might result in the loss of any brand recognition and reputation you've earned over the years. 

How to Come Up With the Name

Have a brainstorming session, select four to five names, and run them through the following list of qualifications: 

  • First of all, your business name must be legal. In other words, it must contain certain words and exclude restricted words. The LLC name must have an LLC identifier, such as “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Liability,” or an abbreviation like “LLC.” The words that require permission to be used and that generally should be avoided are “bank,” “insurance,” etc. Look for restricted and prohibited words on your state's business website.        
  • It's a good idea to have a business name that people can easily remember when they find themselves in need of your service or product. 
  • Because your business name will be marketing your company, it is crucial to have one that tells people exactly what your business does.
  • Sometimes, like in case of internet companies, originality might be more important than meaning and will make your business stand out among competitors.       
  • Check your state's online database and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) trademark database for the name availability. You need to ensure that the name you want is not the same as or similar to another business's name in your state. 
  • Try to create several possible domain names for each of your chosen names and check their availability with a name registrar.
  • If you are planning to use Twitter or Instagram for your business, try to come up with a username. For Facebook and Pinterest, you can pick a vanity URL. 

Business Name Availability       

Once you chose the perfect name, make sure you are not infringing on someone else's rights. To avoid trouble with your business name, it's good to have some understanding of the trademark law basics and to research your chosen name very thoroughly. 

Trademark Law

Trademarks exist so one business does not use a name that will confuse it with a competitor. If you choose a name similar to a competitor's name, you risk being accused of infringing on its trademark rights and being forced to change the name and even pay damages. 

Name Searching            

Because there is no one place for all the trademarked names, it's best to follow the outlined steps:

  1. Perform a basic screening search by googling your potential name and checking to see if there is another business with your name (or a similar one) that offers a similar product. 
  2. Look at the databases for fictitious names in your county or state. Many small businesses often operate under a fictitious business name and never register it as a trademark or put it online.
  3. If you plan to operate your business as a corporation, LLC, or LP, check the appropriate name databases.
  4. Look for unregistered business names on the internet, Network Solutions, and the Thomas Register.
  5. Check the database of registered trademarks kept by the USPTO to avoid claims of willful infringement of trademark rights, which could lead to high penalties. Check the databases of registered trademarks for all states where you plan on doing business.         

Similar or Identical Names        

It is best to avoid using a name that is identical or similar to another business's name. However, you could get away with it if the other company offers a completely different product, is very far away, and serves only a small population.

Registering Your Own Trademark          

Though it is not required, it is a good idea to trademark your business name to protect it in court. 

If you need more information about LLC name availability, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.