How to find out if your business name is available?
Choosing an appropriate name for your business is a big milestone at the beginning of starting your own business. The chosen name should reflect your intended branding and the emotions you like to associate with it. It should also be easy to remember so it “sticks” in the minds of your customers. Coming up with such a name can be time-consuming and demotivating at the same time. As such, the last thing you want to find out after finding a great name is that it is already in use.
Before you make your final judgement for a particular name, it is recommended to check if it is already registered and actually available. There is a procedure to follow if you want to end up with a business name which works for long. You need to check if the business name is already registered as a company name or trademark and if not, commence with the registration. You can also reserve the name in ahead of actually launching your business, if aren't ready to launch your business officially. This will stop other people from using it. So, how do you find out is a business name is already registered?
Costs of checking business names
With governments worldwide providing the mentioned services, all availability checks should be free of charge. This goes for the company registers as well as the trademarks — both can be use for free. If a web-service charges you money for a individual and personalized search service beyond simple, automated access to the same government services the case might be different. These services are left out here to keep your starting costs low. No costs should evolve from the searches below.
Legal availability of your name: trademarks and company registers
Registering a business name which is too similar or almost the same to an already existing company is risky from a legal point of view and not recommended. The other business might come after you with an infringement lawsuit demanding the change of your business name. We all can relate to how dreadful this can be, especially when the business is already progressing well. To avoid such complications when your business is already thriving, you can always check whether or not the name is already registered legally.
You can accomplish this by searching for “company register” + your country on Google. If you aren't successful checking this for your country try the state level. Following some direct links important checking services.
Verifying legal availability of business names in Europe
There are more than 11 million registered trademarks in Europe. It is important to check if your mark is already registered by someone else. To do so, you get to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EQUIPO) website. You will access two tools: eSearch plus and TMview. eSearch plus grants access to EQUIPO database where you can search is a particular trademark is already registered or not. TMview database has the information about the EU national IP offices and other offices in the EU. It's recommended to check both to be on the safe side.
Companies are registered individually in each country and can't be checked in one search. Same as ub the United States, you can find the company register with a simple online search. "company register" + your country should give you promising results.
Legal availability of business names in the United States
Checking if a given name is already trademarked is highly recommended to any aspiring founder. To check for the trademark registration status, you can use a commercial search service for trademarks. But this isn't needed. You can conduct a search by yourself as well. You can go directly to public organizations and use their search engines such as Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) in the US to complete the search. The searches are free of charge, faster and more up to date than commercial services often.
As mentioned before, in the US the registration of companies is a duty of the states. This means the process is not the same across all the states. In many states, you can check the availability of company names in online databases. If a name is not already in use in one state doesn't imply that it is available for use. Continue with your search with trademarks as mentioned above. It's always advisable to check the trademark office in addition to the state-level company register.
Checking availability of trademarks and company names in Canada
Canadians can use the Canadian Trademarks Database for free to check if a given trademark is already in use. Visit the site and query the database. This website has made it simple as you simply conduct a search using the keyword that you have in mind. If the search returns no result, then you can be sure that the name or phrase is not already trademarked.
The process and tools across Canadian provinces vary. Some provide a direct search while others only provide information on how to search. Here the links to the relevant government websites in the provinces:
- Alberta: Corporate registry search
- British Columbia: Name search
- Manitoba: Companies search
- Saskatchewan: Existing businesses search
- New Brunswick: Corporate affairs registry search
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Request a name search
- Northwest Territories: Corporate registry search
- Nunavut: Business search
- Prince Edward Island: Corporate/business names registry
- Yukon Territory: How to find out what names are available
Before you spend effort establishing your business, you should take this opportunity just to be sure that your business name is actually available. Read on to learn how to do this easiest.
Check if domains and social usernames are available
Having your legal side in order is the first step. Making sure your desired company name is (in some variation) available as a domain name and on the desired social media channels is the next step.
Checking domain names and social networks one-by-one is very time-consuming. You will need to go from one website to the next and wait every time. It is very tiresome and often frustrating. Not seldom, your desired names are not available as social platforms are free to use and many names have been used before or registered for fun.
However, not all is lost as there are tools built to automate this process. Our own name check tool is one of them. It will deliver you fast and reliable results for your desired names. You can check both domain names and usernames at once. You also can get suggestions for alternatives as well. This should make your search easier and less stressful.
After the first search you can tweak the desired networks under the 'cog'-symbol. With this tool in your toolbelt, you should be able to find out of your desired names are still available in minutes.
A proposed business name can by no means be identical to an already existing one. Even a deceptive name is not permitted by law. You should check for the legal availability of the name as described in this article. If the outlined methods do not fit your situation, then consult with your country officials to be on the right side of the law. Remember coming up with an appropriate business name which is not already in use is the objective.