Performing an Ohio LLC lookup ensures a business name isn't in use for a new company who wants to use it. A registry of business names is kept by the Ohio Secretary of State. According to the law in Ohio, a new name for a business must be different enough from other registered businesses' names to avoid potential conflicts. There are extra requirements and restrictions on some business names.

When Is a Business Required to Be Distinguishable Upon the Records?

Some types of business names must be "distinguishable upon the records" from other businesses that have a hold or active status. These include: 

  • Corporation names 
  • Limited partnership names 
  • Reserved names 
  • Trade names 
  • Limited liability partnership names 
  • Limited liability company names

When a filing request comes into the Secretary of State asking to register a business name, that name will get compared to every other name that has been registered in the past. If the name isn't different enough from another business that's in the records, it can't be registered.

As an example, a business asking for the name "XYZ Corporation" won't get approved if a business already exists with the name "XYZ LLC," because they are too similar.

Fictitious Names

Fictitious names, however, are not required to be different from other registered business names. For example, if "Larry's Ice Cream" is a registered fictitious name, another company could be registered as "Larry's Ice Cream, Incorporated" since the names don't need to be distinguishable.

General Partnership Names

General partnerships can file their business name as a fictitious name, a trade name, or on the Statement of Partnership Authority, which would be treated as a fictitious name. If the general partnership decides to file for a trade name registration, they must make sure their name is different from other registered corporations. If a fictitious name is filed by a general partnership or if they file a Statement of Partnership Authority, the name will be treated as fictitious.

What If My Business Name Is Not Distinguishable Upon The Records?

If a name is conflicting, it can be registered only in the cases where consent is given by the company who has the conflicting name. In order to register a name that's conflicting, the Consent for the use of Similar Name form must be sent in along with the other forms, such as the Articles of Incorporation. This will show that the company obtained consent from the previous registrant.

What Does It Mean When A Name Is In “Hold” Status?

Under some circumstances, the Ohio Secretary of State has the authority to cancel a business license. If a corporation doesn't pay their corporate franchise taxes for any given year, the corporation's license can be canceled by the Secretary of State's office when they receive a notice of the tax delinquency form. The Secretary of State must "hold" the now-canceled business name for up to a year past the cancellation date. This gives the company the opportunity to have their name reinstated by paying back their taxes.

Any new business name must be different from company names that are in a "hold" status for up to one year. If the corporation doesn't pay their taxes to get back in good standing, that name will become available again for public use. A corporation whose name is canceled doesn't have the authority to do business, which means they can't give consent to use a name that's conflicting. If a business wishes to obtain a name that conflicts with one on hold, they can either pick a different name or wait a year to see if it becomes available.

Other Company Statuses in the Ohio Database

When searching for a business name, any match that has a status of "active" is not available for use. Names that are found with the status "canceled" are available to use for a new company. The same is true for companies that have a status of "dead." The Ohio Secretary of State is the one who decides if a name is distinguishable from those on the records, but the Ohio Revised Code also has specific name availability rules.

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