How do I Find Out if a New Business Name Is Already Taken?

By Jessica Jones
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Before submitting articles of incorporation paperwork or filing an assumed name certificate, conduct a search of business names to determine if the name you want to use is already taken. If you attempt to file business registration paperwork using a business name already registered with the state of Texas or the county clerk's office, your paperwork will be returned. Use online resources, such as business name databases, business and domain name directories, to conduct a thorough search of available business names.

Visit the Texas Secretary of State website to search the SOSDirect database of registered businesses. Limited liability companies, nonprofit, foreign or for-profit corporations and partnerships must register business names with the secretary of state's office to prevent other businesses from registering the same or similar name. You may also search through trademarks registered in Texas and assumed name certificates filed by registered businesses that want to conduct business under a name different from the name or names included in incorporation paperwork.

Visit the Harris County Clerk's Office website if opening a business in the Houston area or the county clerk's office in which your business is located to search through the Assumed Name database. Sole proprietorships should file an assumed name certificate with the county clerk's office when using a business name other than their own name to represent the business on tax and banking forms.

Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to search for business logos, trademarks, phrases and other distinctive markings in use by other businesses in the United States. You may also check the status of current trademark applications.

Conduct online research of local and state businesses using directories, such as HoustonBusiness, Houston Yellow Pages or CheckHouston to determine the business name you want to use is already taken. Even though business owners are encouraged to register business names with the Texas Secretary of State's office and County Clerk's Office, some business owners may not.

Research available domain names to determine if the business name you want to use is already in use by another website. A domain name is a website address. Search domain name databases, such as Network Solutions, Register.com or Domains.org, to check domain name availability. When creating a website for your business, purchase a domain name that matches the name of your business to help reduce customer confusion and create branding. Choose a different business name if the domain name is unavailable.

About the Author

Based in the Washington metro area, Jessica Jones has been a freelance writer since 2006, specializing in business topics. Her fiction has also been featured in publications such as "The Jamaican Observer Sunday Literary Supplement" and at websites including HackWriters. Jones earned a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing from Lesley University.