If you have a particular name that you want to use or are already using for your business, it is important to act quickly to find out if anyone else is using that name. There a few simple research steps and searches that you can do yourself, right now, which can give you a better idea of the status of your business name.

Before getting started with these steps, it is essential to remember that you perform several different searches. Try alternative spellings, as well as putting in additional words that might make sense to be included within the name. Basically, you want to try and search for anything that might sound like or get confused with the name that you have selected.

The first step is easy enough, simply run a few searches with an online search engine, like Google, of the business name. Pay attention to the results for not only exact name matches but similar matches that are making or performing related goods or services to what you had in mind with the name.

Next you can try going to a domain name registration site, such as GoDaddy.com, and entering in your business name into the domain name search. This will let you know whether or not someone already owns that website domain. Remember to take note that even if your preferred domain like .com is available, be sure to look through the other search results to see if someone is using your business name in another domain like .net, .us or others.

Digging in a bit deeper with your research, you should go to the U.S. Patent Office website. Here you will be able to see if someone has previously trademarked your business name. To run the search, go to tmsearch.uspto.gov, then click on “Basic Word Mark Search” and start running different searches to see what names have been trademarked.

Now that you have searched the national trademark database, you will want to narrow down your research more locally. You can do this by visiting the website for the Office of the Secretary of State for each state that you are or might do business in. For example, the Colorado Secretary of State website is sos.state.co.us, and from there you can select “Businesses, trademarks, trade names,” then click on “Search business database.” Now you can run searches to see trademarks, trade names, and business names.

Following these steps will help you go from a broad to narrow perspective in your research, so that you can hone in on what exactly is happening with a particular business name. With all of this new information in hand, you can begin thinking more seriously about what to do next with your business name.

If you have any questions about what your research turned up or if you are ready to take the next step in forming your business or protecting a business name, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, PC, the home of your Denver Business Lawyer, Elizabeth Lewis at 720-258-6647 or email her at Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com.