Check Availability of a Name

Is your company name already taken?

What you get with this 5-step starter guide:

You may have one or a few possible names in mind for your new company. But how do you know someone else isn't already using the name? What if you get a letter in a few months telling you you'll need to change your signage, letterhead, website and more?

This Starter Guide is designed to help you be sure the name you choose for your company isn't already in use by another company.

It'll walk you through real-time searches for available domain names, conflicting U.S. trademarks, Secretary of State databases, and even help with a broad Google search for problematic businesses with the same or similar name.

Who needs this starter guide:

This Guide is for starters who have one or a few names in mind for their new business and want help ensuring they won't conflict with the name of someone else's business.

Before you use this Guide, you should:
1. Have one or a few company names in mind to check. If you need help coming up with some good names, check out our Find a Company Name Starter Guide.
2. Have a good idea about the state where you will form your company. If you need help determining this, first check out our Starter Guide, Select a State of Formation.

Resources used in this starter guide:

Related starter guide:

Details about this starter guide:

Cost:

Included

Department:

Legal

Company Stage:

Evaluate Launch

Frequently Asked Questions (7)

What's a domain name?
Put simply, it's the name of a website. So target.com, nytimes.com, and redcross.org are all domain names.
Is a domain name the same as a website?
Nope - a domain name is the address (like yourcompany.org), while the website is what you actually see when you go to that web address.
Can Startomatic help me build a website for my domain?
Yes! We can create a custom "coming soon" web page for you with our Coming Soon Web Page Starter Tool.
Oh no! There’s an exact (or very similar) match between my company’s name and an existing trademark -- do I need to change my company’s name?
Not necessarily! There are a couple of reasons this may be ok.

First, your company may be in a completely different type of industry from the company with the existing trademark, in which case, you should be in the clear. For example, the word “Frontier” has been trademarked by a number of different companies, including an airline (Frontier Airlines), a telecom company (Frontier Communications), and an organic herb co-op (Frontier Co-op).

Second, you may not even be using your company’s name to market your goods and services, but may instead have one or more brand names that you’ll be using. For example, The Procter & Gamble Company (the company name), markets its disposable razors as Gillette ® (the brand name and trademark). In this scenario, there’s no harm in having a company name that is identical to an existing trademark, since your use of it won’t create any confusion as to the source of your goods or services.

If, on the other hand, you intend to use your company name to market your goods or services, AND those goods or services are in the same industry as the existing trademark, you probably want to go back and choose a different company name.
How can I tell if I can trademark my company’s name, or the name of my company’s product or service?
The short answer is that there is no way to know if the name is able to be trademarked unless and until the USPTO actually registers the trademark or servicemark. A trademark lawyer or any number of trademark service providers will, for a fee, conduct what is called a “clearance search”, during which they’ll review not just the USPTO database, but all 50 states’ trademark databases, private company name databases, domain name databases, Google searches, and maybe even foreign trademark databases.

These comprehensive searches can cost several thousand dollars, and even then there are no guarantees that a proposed mark can be registered without opposition. If trademark protection is going to be critical to your company’s success, you should seek out an experienced trademark attorney in your area.
I’ve heard that I may need a “service mark”, not a trademark. Which one do I need?
This is a pretty simple distinction: trademarks refer to physical goods (think Dyson™ vacuums, Iams™ dog food, or Canon ® cameras), while service marks refer to - you guessed it - services (think Uber® ridesharing or Roto-Rooter® - for all your plumbing needs!). 

For simplicity, the word “trademark” or just “mark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks - at Startomatic, we’ll usually just use “trademark” to refer to both trademarks and service marks.
Can Startomatic register a trademark for me?
Not yet. There are a number of different ways to protect your company’s name as a trademark, including filing applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, various state trademark offices, or foreign countries’ trademark offices. 

Simply using your name in commerce can also creates a type of protection called a “common law” trademark.

The Startomatic search is only intended to help you determine if the company name you’ve chosen has an obvious potential infringement of an existing United States trademark.

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