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Question added to topic Grow Your BusinessApril 8, 2011

How Can I Find Out Whether a Business Name Is Already Taken?

I have a name for my business, but how do I find out if I can use it or whether someone else has already claimed it as their own? The name I want to use is Beauty Room.
There are a few places that you'll want to look to see if anyone else is using the same company name. First, if you are filing "Beauty Room" as a DBA -- short for "doing business as," a term that indicates an informal business name that's not your legal business name -- you will want to check with your local county clerk's office. Or, if you want that to be the name of your corporation or limited liability company, you will need to check with your state's Secretary of State, which approves business entity filings.

Second, depending on your plans for your business, you may also want to do a trademark search. There may be no one in your state using the name "Beauty Room." But someone in another state may be using it as a trademark. If you have plans for expansion, you could run into conflict and possibly be prevented from using your mark.

You can also check the Trademark Electronic Search System from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office known as the TESS database, but your findings aren't likely to provide a full picture of who else might be using the name.

An attorney who understands intellectual property can help you do a proper trademark search so that you'll have a good sense of whether you have clear sailing to use the name as a trademark.

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq. is an award-winning New York City attorney, edutainer and author. Under her Ask The Business Lawyer brand, she reaches thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners with her legal services, professional speaking, information products, and LexAppeal weekly ezine. She also writes the Making It Legal blog.

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