How Can Someone Find Out Who Owns a Business?

By Christopher Raines - Updated June 19, 2017
Woman researching online in a coffee shop

If you're preparing for an interview, researching a business, or pondering a lawsuit against a company, you may want to learn who owns it. There are many references available that you can use to search for the owner of a business. The ability to find the owner is made easier because of the number of places at which businesses may or must provide information. An address or brand name often can provide the clues when you try to access business records.

Search for an Assumed Name

In many states, a business owner must file a certificate of assumed name to do business in a name other than his own. Depending on your state, you'll find the owner with the fictitious name on the state's business entities or at the secretary of state's office. In some states, the certificate of assumed, or fictitious, name is filed in the register of deeds or other county clerk's office where the business is located.

Review Trademark Records

An owner may trademark a business name or logo to prevent its use by other businesses. You can search for the business name on the Patent and Trademark Office's trademark search tool or your state's business office to find the owner of the business that has registered the trademark.

Look Up the License

Many states and local governments require business owners to obtain a business license. In the state of Washington, for example, you can search the Business Licensing Services office. Chicago maintains a searchable database of the owners licensed to conduct business in the city. Search the database of the licensing agency or regulation for occupations that require a permit. If you're interested in who owns your favorite television or radio station, type in the call letters on the Federal Communications Commission's ownership report search page, then click on the "Application" link next to the call letters.

Search Library Resources

Search business and industry directories at your local library. Many list the names, addresses, owners and officers or directors of businesses, including those not traded on public stock exchanges. ReferenceUSA maintains a database of information on businesses, which you can access if you're a member of a library that subscribes to this service. You can search using a business address if you don't know the company name.

About the Author

Christopher Raines enjoys sharing his knowledge of business, financial matters and the law. He earned his business administration and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a lawyer since August 1996, Raines has handled cases involving business, consumer and other areas of the law.

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