Why Should You Check if Your Desired Business Name Is Available?
You’re ready to launch your business startup and you’ve thought of the cleverest name. It’s tempting to buy a domain, print business cards, and snag a Facebook profile as soon as you have the name and the desire to start a business. In reality, however, you need to do a bit of legwork before you can launch.
One of those bits of legwork is checking to ensure the business name isn’t already in use. Here are a few reasons you should always check before you take any further steps with a business name:
- Legally, you need to ensure your business name doesn’t infringe upon the trademark of any competitors. If you infringe on someone else’s trademark, you could find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit and end up paying damages that aren’t in the budget for your budding business.
- If you don’t have a distinguishable name, you won’t be able to register your business in the future as an LLC, corporation, or partnership with the Georgia Secretary of State.
- Naming your business something that’s too close to another business, especially one in your region or niche, can confuse customers and might impact sales and your ability to successfully grow your company.
Steps to Determine if Your Business Name Is Taken
It takes some committed research to understand whether someone might be using the name you want and whether it will matter.
Individuals that want to launch a business in the Peach State can begin with the Georgia Secretary of State’s business search. This database lets you search all business entities filed with the state of Georgia. You can rule out whether an LLC, partnership, or corporation is using your name or a very similar name. While you’re on that page, you can also search for trademarks registered in Georgia that might use your business name.
If you want to start a business in another state or do business in another state once you get started, you can run the same type of search for other locations. Simply find each state’s Secretary of State website and look for business name search options.
You’re not done with your search at this point. Not all business names in use are registered as businesses with the Secretary of State. Many companies use DBAs, which are fictitious doing-business-as names. You should also search the DBA registrations in your city or county and any surrounding areas in which you plan on doing business.
You can also run a database check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to find out if there are any business trademarks on file with that office that might include or match the name you want to use.
Finally, it’s a good idea to consult Google. Do an Internet search for the name you are considering. If your chosen business name turns up business websites with the same or very similar name, you know someone else is already using the name.
Can You Use a Name if Another Business Already Has it?
Yes, in some cases, you can use the name even if another business is already using it. Whether or not you’re prohibited from using the name—or just shouldn’t as a business best practice—depends in part on geolocation and the region the business will serve.
Imagine this scenario, for example. A family in Seattle, Washington, with the surname Patterson has a funeral home. They call it Patterson Funeral Home. A person with the surname Patterson in Atlanta wants to open a funeral home and call it Patterson Funeral Home. In this case, there is likely no problem if both businesses provide deathcare services in their own metropolitan areas. They don’t compete with each other and will not be confused for each other.
The niche within which you work may also play a role. A small software company creating mobile games and a local cleaning service in a different city might have similar names, for example. These are obviously not competing entities.
Get Help With the Work of Launching Your Business
If you think it sounds like a lot of work simply to verify whether you can or should use a business name, you’re not alone. Many people turn to professionals when launching their businesses to help with tasks such as this.
Working with a business law professional can take a lot of burdens off your shoulders so you can concentrate on functions such as marketing, hiring, or the creative work related to your business. A business law team can help you understand whether you can use a business name and how to register it properly. They can also assist in protecting your intellectual property with the right trademarks.
Other ways business lawyers can provide support for startups include:
- Negotiations. Experienced attorneys can step into negotiation processes on your behalf to protect your interests and potentially help you get better deals when purchasing business property or setting up vendor relationships.
- Contracts. Attorneys can vet contracts before you sign them and create contracts that you can be confident in whether you’re signing partnerships or hiring new employees.
- Employment law. When you’re working with an experienced legal team, you can turn to them for employment law questions to keep you on the right side of compliance.
- Business structure. Even before you launch your business, a lawyer can help you understand the pros and cons of various structures and what might be right for your endeavor.
If you want to start a new business in Georgia, we can help. Call the InPrime Legal team at 770-282-8967 to find out more.