The internet and state and local services offices are the first places you should begin a search for the name of a business owner.
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.
- Missouri Secretary of State: Business Services: Fictitious Name Registration Frequently Asked Questions
- Patent and Trademark Office: Search Trademark Database
- City of Chicago: City Service: Business License Look-Up
- State of Washington: Business Licensing Service: Search Business Licenses
- California Courts: Self-Help: Figure Out How to Name the Defendant
- State of New Jersey: NJ License & Certification Guide
- Federal Communications Commission: Ownership Report Search
- ReferenceUSA: Data Quality
- City of Philadelphia: Public Health -- Office of Food Protection -- Food Safety Inspection Reports
- SBA.gov: Starting a Business: Register Your Fictitious or "Doing Business As" (DBA) Name
- Entrepreneur: Business License Definition
- SBA.gov: Starting a Business: What State Licenses and Permits Does Your Business Need?
- Library of Congress: Business Reference Services: Directories -- Doing Company Research