When naming your company, it greatly benefits you to familiarize yourself with the concept of trademark infringement and its repercussions. Infringement occurs when a company of a certain name is already in existence within the same industry that you are entering. When the other business is providing a comparable service or good as you plan to provide under the same or similar name, you place yourself at risk. Whether you are aware of the original company or completely oblivious to it, you are infringing upon the other brand’s trademark and can create a sense of confusion among consumers. Legal steps can be taken to stop you from utilizing the name in its entirety. To avoid legal headaches, as well as a substantial amount of time and resources wasted building a brand that you are no longer able to use, it is imperative that you check out availability before committing to one specific name for your business.
Basic Online Search
Begin your quest for name availability with a basic online search. Type in the preferred name on your favorite search engine and take note of the sites that the search turns up. If you find the page filled with a large number of results, narrow down your search by including the industry in which you plan to enter. Put in any name variations you can think of that may be confused with your working name. If they are similar at all to the one you have in mind, it may still result in the other company taking legal steps against you.
Place your name into the URL address bar to see what, if anything, comes up. Once again, include all potential variations to check whether the domain for that name or one similar is already taken. It is possible the name is owned by a business or individual in an industry completely separate from your own or is not even being utilized by its owner. However, the lack of availability of the domain may impact your decision to use the original name that you had in mind. Even if a business is not based online, it is still often vital to have an online presence, placing great importance on being able to find a domain that will work with your brand. If you are determined to keep the original name, you can go through the process of requesting a purchase of the address from its current owner, possibly acquiring it for your own use.
Fictitious Name Database
Search the array of local and state databases in existence to find names that have already been registered. You can filter through the Fictitious Name Database to see whether your preferred business name is in use in your region or elsewhere within the state. This compilation includes any name that is not a person’s legal moniker and is used for business purposes. Even if a fictitious name is not registered in this particular database but comes up in your online search, you should reconsider. If an unregistered name is already well established in the industry, it can still result in confusion and legal issues down the road.
State Filing Office’s Database
States also maintain a database of business names filed under varying legal statuses. You can check with the filing office of your individual state if you plan to register as a limited partnership, an LLC, or a corporation. If any other companies have already registered their name under one of these statuses, this will be the place that you find it.
It can be disconcerting to learn that the name you had your heart set on is already in use. However, it is better to find out before you begin pouring your energy and money into branding to avoid scrapping a lot of hard work and having to start from scratch.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.