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Conduct a Trademark Search
Searching state records is the first part of covering your bases. But some names are protected and off-limits at a national level. How to check if a business name is taken at a country level? Perform a nationwide trademark search via the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. This will protect your business from running into trademark infringement lawsuits.
Run a Domain Name Search
Once you have determined that your selected business name isn't trademarked or in use, run a domain name search. Having a website is a must in today's business landscape, and it's best to have a domain name that matches your business name as it builds brand consistency.
Domain name providers like GoDaddy, Hostinger, and GoogleDomains allow you to perform free domain name searches. If the exact domain name extension isn't available as a .com, alternative TLDs (top-level domain) you could consider are .net, .site, .online, and .xyz.
Perform Social Media Availability Search
Social media presence and marketing are among the top ways to get more eyes on your business. Covering your search bases here will again ensure there's branding consistency, which could generate 10-20% business growth. Use Namechk, NameCheck, or Inc.com to identify available social media usernames across multiple channels.
7. Test Your Business Name
Just as you test-ride a car before buying it, you need to test your business name in the real world before officially filing the paperwork for it.
A/B testing is one way of the easiest tests to perform on a business name, and it works well if you're torn between two or more. Here's how to go about it:
- Get a group of 15-20 people that represent your target audience. You could tap into some family members, friends, workmates, and willing strangers.
- Split the people into equal groups, and share the first name option with group A. Make sure to ask them to pronounce it.
- Ask group B to spell the second name option.
- Next, switch the names and repeat the process.
- Go with the name that gets the highest number of correct spellings and pronunciations.
What If Your Business Name Already Exists in Another State?
You have zeroed in on the perfect name, but there's a potential caveat — the name business name could be taken in another state. Don't panic. There are a few things you can do to officially give your business your desired name:
Keep Business Local
If your business name is taken in another state, what can you do? If you intend on keeping your business local and within your state borders, you should have no problem registering your business name. However, this might create some issues if you do decide to expand your business outside your state in the future.
Consider a Name Transfer
If you are adamant about securing full ownership of your prospective business name and have plans to expand the business, consider requesting a name transfer from the other business entity. Name transfer forms are typically found on each state's Secretary of State website.
Doing this will give you the option of lawfully expanding your business to other states without infringing on trademark laws. However, this decision is completely up to the other party, and they might hold you to some conditions or expect a financial transaction in return.
If neither of these options is panning out for you because you do have expansion plans or the company isn't ready for a name transfer, you will have to revisit the drawing board. Go back and follow the seven steps on how to come up with a business name.
Create and Trademark Your Name with Incfile
Creating a business name is an arduous task. Incfile has several tools and services that can ease the business naming process for you:
Incfile Business Name Generator Tool
It can be challenging to come up with an available business name that's catchy and abides by state naming laws. Need some help spurring your creativity?
Incfile's Business Name Generator can help you brainstorm a few names. All you need to do is to enter relevant keywords related to your business's products, services, or niche, and we'll suggest a few unique and memorable brand-appropriate names.
Incfile Business Name Search Tool
Going through each state's business entity search tool can be cumbersome. You have a whole lot of other things to take care of as you get ready to start your business.
Incfile's Business Name Search Tool provides you with a one-stop search portal that answers your main question, "How to check if a business name is taken." Enter your desired business name, type of business (is it an LLC or Corp), state, and voila! The database will let you know if the name is available.
Incfile Trademark Package
A trademark will help you get legal protection for your brand and prevent anyone else in the nation from using your business name. Trademarks are popular, but they can be extremely difficult to secure. According to the USPTO trademark dashboard, only 45% of applications get approved without any objection, leaving you with an over 50% chance of rejection.
Incfile's Trademark service provides you with legal guidance from an experienced trademark attorney, assistance with the filing of the trademark application, and a thorough search of the trademark directory. The service provides everything you need to get approval from the government office so you can protect your business name and brand.
Choose Your Name and Start Off Right
Finding the perfect name for your business gets you one step closer to becoming a true entrepreneur. Incfile's Start a Business Guide can facilitate your entrepreneurship goals and allow you to focus on getting your business off the ground.