How to Check if a Business Name Is Taken (For FREE)

  • Brandon Boushy by Brandon Boushy
  • 5 months ago
  • Blog
  • 0
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Your business name is one of the key elements that creates your brand. You need to know how to check if a business name is taken to prevent customers from being confused about your company’s business.

A company name can be protected at the local, state, federal, or international level. You’ll want to check business name availability at each level to ensure your company name isn’t taken.

Click any of the links above to jump straight to the portion of the blog that is most important to you.

Why Should You Check Business Name Availability?

woman in business attire thinking with a website screenshot background

Before you start a business, you should check whether another business is using your desired business name. It’s challenging to form a business entity if the name is already taken. Plus, you might infringe upon another company’s intellectual property, which could lead to costly lawsuits.

Ultimately, this is the hardest part of how to name a business, but we’ll help you navigate choosing business names in the easiest way possible.

In addition to this blog, we also have a blog on choosing a business name and our business name checker online tool, which helps you come up with business names and connects you directly to NameCheap to buy the domain. Try the fictitious name generator today. It’s a quick screening search to make your life easier.

Check To See if Name Is Available for Business

A prospective business owner should check if a business name is available in the following locations:

  1. US Patent and Trademark Office
  2. Secretary of State Office for Your State
  3. Local Databases
  4. Website URL
  5. Social Media Accounts

If the name is taken in any category, you should look for a different name to avoid confusion.

We’ll show you how to perform a name search for each of the locations named above.

#1. How to Check if Name is Trademarked with United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO)

screenshot of patent and trademark from website

A trademarked business name:

  • Identifies the producer of goods
  • Protects a brand legally under trademark law
  • Guards against fraud and counterfeiting initiatives.

You can perform a trademark search using Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) on the USPTO website. The steps for searching trademarked business names are:

  1. Decide what type of search to perform
  2. Input the search terms
  3. Review the results

How to Establish if the Business Name Is Someone Else’s Trademark Rights

The federal trademark database allows you to perform a trademark name search in five ways:

  1. Basic Word Search: The basic searches look for a trade name only. They do not include any logos. Most people will want to check for a company’s trademark using this option.
  2. Word and Design Mark Search (Structured): Use TESS to search business names and logos using the internal design codes used for registered trademarks.
  3. Word and Design Mark Search (Free Form): If you need more complex search criteria, use the free form with boolean logic. You might want to use this if your trademark search returns a million results but the first page looks unrelated.
  4. Browse Dictionary: This trademarked business search tool lists all results alphabetically.
  5. Search OG Publication Date or Registration Date (Search OG): The Official Gazette is a publication of official trademark applications. You’ll use this search to verify someone hasn’t recently applied to trademark a name.

screenshot of search option from USPTO website

Let’s walk through an example. Choose “Basic,” which will take you to a page that looks like the picture below.

screenshot of basic from USPTO website

Search for Your Business Entity Name Availability

Type in the business name you want to use. In the picture above, we used “UpFlip,” and the results show that our CEO owns the trademark rights for the business name.

Review the TESS Search Results

There are three possible results you will get:

  1. No Results Found: You can likely obtain nationwide trademark protection. Check the Official Gazette to make sure that the name isn’t pending.
  2. Single Result Found: You cannot file with the trademark office, but you may be able to contact the trademark owner to purchase the right to use the trademark.
  3. Multiple Results Found: You may also get results like the third slide in the video below. You’ll need to review all the live trademarks on the page to make sure you are not in violation of trademark infringement laws.

screenshot of upflip trademark from USPTO website

For best results, contact a trademark lawyer if you are concerned about trademark infringement.

You are not required to apply for a trademark because common law trademark rights protect you without formally registering with the USPTO. Register your trademark if you reach the point you need to protect it, but don’t waste your time trying to prosecute international trademark violations. Check out the benefits of registering your trademark business name.

#2. How to See if a Business Name Is Taken on the Secretary of State SOS Website

Every state has a Secretary of State agency where small business owners can form a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a corporation. They will have a state filing office that includes a search for business entities.

The search tools vary by state but may include:

  • Trademarks
  • Trade Names
  • Service Marks
  • Reserved Names
  • Business Licenses

You can find your state’s Secretary of State search tool by going to Once you get to your SOS website, look for terms like:

  • LLC Name Search
  • Company Search Name
  • Search Business Entity Filings
  • Fictitious Business Name Search
  • Doing Business As (DBA Name) Search

Every state has slightly different ways of wording its site, so you’ll have to check how to search for a business entity’s name in your state agency.

#3. How to Perform a Local Business Entity Search

man browsing on a tablet

Local governments may also require a business owner to register a company’s legal name using DBA (Doing Business As) registrations. You’ll want to check with the local County Clerk’s office. Find your county office on

Once you find the business name search, just check to see if your business name is available locally. Cities may also have requirements.

#4. How to Check Domain Availability

Every new business will need to get a website domain. You can simply type “” into any web browser to check if a competing business owns the website.

Alternatively, you can look up a business name on sites like:

  1. Namecheap
  2. GoDaddy
  3. Hostinger

Sometimes your domain name will be available, but the price is high. Sites that are more than $100/year for a domain name are being sold by an external company that believes the website will be a high-traffic, high-authority website. I would avoid these unless you have a legitimate reason you believe you can benefit from using these small business names.

#5. How to Check if Name Is Available for Business on Social Media

man holding a mobile phone with social media icons floating around

The easiest way to check if your business name is available on popular social media sites is to perform a general internet search. Google your proposed business name and check if there are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok profiles.

If any come up, keep looking for a different name.

Is My Business Name Taken?

By this point, you have checked your business name availability in all the relevant places where registered and unregistered business names might be taken. If you have not found a business called by your name, you are ready to file formation documents and select your business entity type.

Business Name Search FAQs

man holding a coffee while working on a laptop

What is business name registration?

Business name registration is the process of submitting a new business entity’s name with the state in which you plan to do business. Find out how to register a business.

Can I register a business name online?

Most states allow you to register a business online, but some are still stuck in the stone ages. Verify with your state agencies to find out more.

Can I change my business name later?

Yes. Just file an “Articles of Amendment” with your state. Don’t use the new name until the state approves it.

Can two businesses have the same name?

Trademark business names cannot be used by another business without the written permission of the trademark owner. If you wish to use a business name that is trademarked, reach out to the owner to establish if they would be willing to offer a franchise opportunity.

Where can I check if a business name is taken?

Start by checking if the general business name is available by using Google. Then check business name availability at and your Secretary of State office, and see if your localities require businesses to register with them.

What do you do if someone copies your business name?

First, reach out to the individual and politely inform them that you own the trademark to the business name. They might change it without a legal conflict because no new business wants to start with legal trouble.

If that doesn’t work, you can file your trademark with the USPTO, which will give you the authority to take legal action. Legal conflicts are expensive and should only be undertaken once you have attempted to settle out of court.

How do I know if a business name is trademarked?

Check the United States Patent and Trademark Office federal database. Use the TESS search tools for your federal search and check state trademark offices.

Can I trademark my business name if someone else is using it?

No. Only one business can trademark a business name legally. If you perform a trademark business name search and someone else is already doing business with the name you wish to use, approach the business owner to see if they would be interested in selling a franchise. You might get lucky and have a head start in your business.

Should my business and LLC have the same name?

It depends on the company. You may operate an LLC and have separate dba registrations. This is common when people own franchises. The LLC name might be Fast Food Franchises LLC, while they are doing business as McDonalds.

Does your logo have to match your business name?

Your logo is not required to match your business name unless you trademark the design. Your logo is a part of your marketing strategy and is not legally required to match your trademark business name.

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