You have decided to start your own business. You’ve researched your industry, overhead, equipment, advertising, etc. You’re ready to go, right? Wrong!

If you have NOT done extensive research on your business name, then you don’t know if it is actually available.

A common mistake many new business owners make is assuming their business name is available simply because:

  • the domain name was available
  • fictitious name was available
  • company name was available
  • internet research showed that the name was available
  • yellow page research showed the name was available

The above are merely preliminary indications of which trade names, service names and product names exist. Only a thorough investigation will tell you if a name is actually available for you to use.

Ok, so what is a thorough investigation?

Thorough investigation involves searching a variety of files.

The first step is a thorough search of the pending and registered trademark in the federal and state archives. Similar names matter too! The search should look for similarities in sound, appearance, and meaning, which means looking for synonyms, spelling variations, word placement, translations (if necessary), etc.

The second step is a comprehensive search of the US domestic common law archives. This involves searching everyone incorporating logs, everyone fictitious names/DBA registrations, Dun & Bradstreet(R) registrations, product advertisements, newspapers, company directories, etc.

If your research is clear on both steps, you can decide whether to apply for a state or federal trademark.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming your company name is available; only a thorough investigation will tell you that!

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