Whether you’re searching for the right business name for your Wisconsin S Corp or Wisconsin C Corp, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to conduct a WI Department of Financial Institutions entity search, plus business naming rules, assumed names and trademarks.
General Rules for Corporation Names
These rules generally apply to all corporations, wherever they're formed.
The name you select cannot be in use by any other business in the state. This is why it's so important to perform a Wisconsin State entity search before you begin your incorporation paperwork.
It’s not enough for your corporation name to be unique. It also cannot be comparable to the name of another business in the state. In addition, you cannot use any of the following features in an attempt to differentiate your corporation name from that of another business:
- Suffixes, such as Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp., Co., Inc., etc.
- Definite articles, such as “A,” “An,” or “The”
- The conjunction "And," or “&"
- Numbers in place of numerals (or vice versa), e.g., "One World" is the same as "1 World"
- The singular, plural or possessive forms of words
- Abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, fonts, typefaces, etc.
All corporations must use one of the following in their names, usually at the end of the name: “Incorporated,” “Corporation,” “Limited” or their abbreviations.
Most states will not allow you to incorporate with names that:
- Are similar to the name of a federal or state agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Wisconsin Workforce Development, Wisconsin Rangers, Treasury, etc.)
- Suggest affiliation with a federal or state agency or organization
- Use the term “Olympic” or any terms that are trademarks of the International Olympic Committee
- Imply a purpose that would be illegal for your business to carry out
Specific Rules for Wisconsin Business Names
In addition to the general rules listed above, you'll need to follow some Wisconsin corporation laws that apply to naming your business.
For example, per the state's statutes Chapter 180, Subchapter 4, §§ 180.0401, the name of a corporation shall contain the word “corporation", “incorporated", “company" or “limited" or the abbreviation “corp.", “inc.", “co." or “ltd." or words or abbreviations of like import in another language, except as provided in par. (b) or s. 180.1907"
Coming Up with the Ideal Business Name
Choosing the perfect business name can be difficult. We have a complete guide to determining the right business name, but essentially, you'll want to choose a name that will:
Need help coming up with business name ideas? Try our free name generator.
Wisconsin Corporation Name Search
Once you have an idea of the name you want, perform a Wisconsin entity search to make sure another company isn't already using that name.
You can use the state's advanced entity search to perform a name search.
You can also use our simple and convenient Business Name Search Tool, which will search the state's business registry for you.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Wisconsin corporation name doesn't infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to ensure you're not infringing is to perform a trademark search through Incfile. You can even register the trademark yourself if it isn't already in use.
Let Incfile run a trademark search for you.
Register a DBA in Wisconsin
You may do business under a name different from your corporation's legal name. While many states refer to this as an assumed name, fictitious name or "doing business as" (DBA), it's a trade name in Wisconsin, and falls under Wisconsin's 'trademark' definition. You may decide to use a trade name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your primary business may be called WildFlower Hospitality, Inc., and you have a chain called WildFlower Tours. You could register a trade name just for that brand. You'd do that by filing a trademark application via the online portal, or you can have Incfile do it on your behalf with our DBA service.
In order to keep your business names unique, you can also use the Wisconsin business entity search. You can perform a Wisconsin trade name search to find out whether any other companies are already using the trade name you want. We can also help you with this via our DBA name service.
Because Wisconsin categorizes trade names differently than most states, it's a good idea to review the state's resource regarding trade names and trademarks.
Note: Typically, a trade name is not the same as a trademark. Learn more about trademark vs. DBA.
Register Your Business Name with the WI Department of Financial Institutions (DFI)
You’ve performed a Wisconsin DFI entity search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and determined whether you need a trade name. Now you can register your corporation name in one of two ways.
Incorporate in Wisconsin for $0 + State Fee ($100)
FAQs About Naming Your Wisconsin Corporation
Use our free Business Name Search Tool and enter your chosen business name. You can also perform a search of the state's registry, to determine whether any other corporations or LLCs in the state are already using that name.
Yes. Most corporations will be bound by general rules (applicable to all corporations) and specific rules (applicable in the state of Wisconsin). We’ve detailed these rules above.
Yes. You can conduct business under a trade name. Details are above.
Yes. The Wisconsin DFI allows you to reserve a name if you're not ready to start your business immediately. Details are above. If you do want to start your business right away, you don't need to reserve a name.