Before settling on a business name or a domain name, you should conduct a limited liability company (LLC) business name search. This important step can help you avoid potential lawsuits and costly trademark infringement claims.
A trademarked name is a unique word or domain name a company uses to distinguish itself from others and to prevent confusion in the marketplace. Slogans, logos, and symbols also can be trademarked. The trademarked name must prompt customers to recognize the product in the marketplace.
Your state has a directory of registered business names you can search. Just follow the instructions to determine if the business name you want to use is available in your state.
How To Search for an LLC Name
In naming an LLC, almost any name will work as long as it isn’t the same or deceptively similar to a name already used by another entity and registered with the state filing office — usually the Secretary of State’s office. The name must end with the words “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation like “LLC” or “L.L.C.” The ending, such as “LLC” or “Inc.,” isn’t considered part of the name when you search for its availability.
When searching for an LLC name, you must:
- Check if the name you want for your LLC is available.
- If your desired name is unavailable, you can search for an existing business entity to check its status with the state.
- Confirm that your own LLC has been officially formed in your state.
- Carry out administrative tasks for your business (only in some states).
Why You Need To Do an LLC Name Search
Creating credibility with an LLC name can help convince people to do business with you. That means it’s definitely worth it to expend the effort to set your business up this way.
An LLC name search can provide key information about a business already using your desired name, enabling you to choose another name to ensure you don’t infringe on other businesses’ trademarks.
Depending on how long you’ve been using a specific business name, if another company already registered that name in your state, you may have to incur the expense of changing your signs, advertisements, business cards, and domain name. If you use someone else’s federally registered trademark, the costs can be even higher. You can be held liable for damages and be forced to pay attorney fees.
Where To Search for an LLC Name
You can look up an existing business entity or DBA name in all 50 states. Use the relevant link below to see if your desired business name is available for use in your state.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I check if an LLC exists?
Check your home state’s and other states’ business name search records and directories. Begin your search by looking at the website for the Secretary of State in the state where you will operate your business. Also, search the web, social media, and the federal trademark database.
Is my LLC name taken?
Find out if someone else already registered your desired LLC name by checking the federal trademark database, and then search the web to find businesses with the same or a similar name.
Can I get my LLC name for free?
No. There are filing fee requirements to reserve an LLC business name. These fees vary by state.
Can I name my LLC anything?
No. Your LLC name must be unique and must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (i.e., “LLC” or “L.L.C.”). In addition, your LLC name can’t include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (e.g., “FBI,” “Treasury,” “State Department,” etc.).
For LLC naming guidelines, check out our Naming an LLC page.
Can two LLCs have the same name?
Yes. But, certain requirements must be met to avoid trademark infringement and to distinguish which company is the rightful owner of the business name.
Should you put LLC in your logo?
No. You don’t need to put the “LLC” designator in your logo for branding or marketing purposes. You may, however, want to place the LLC designator somewhere near your logo to show your business is a registered legal entity. The main requirement for a logo is that it doesn’t infringe on the rights of any other individual or business.
Information on this page has been gathered by a multitude of sources and was most recently updated on December 2021.
Any Information on this site is not guaranteed or warranted to be correct, accurate, or up to date. StateRequirement and its members and affiliates are not responsible for any losses, monetary or otherwise. StateRequirement is not affiliated with any state, government, or licensing body. For more information, please contact your state's authority on insurance.
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