from Startup Daddy.com 5/08 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz 9/13
Is the Name available?
In your State? The first place to check is with your state’s Secretary of State (CA). You can usually do this online. You will want to check if there are any other registered entities (Corporations, LLCs, etc.) or DBAs (Doing Business As) that are already using that name.
Trademark. This is a big one. Once you decide on a name you like, you need to check if other businesses are already using the name. There are many ways to do this, but the best first step is going to be to “Google” it. Enter the name into Google, and see what comes up. If there are businesses there, but not with the exact name, and not in your industry, you may still be in luck. Also check the trademark availability at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Even if you are not planning to register the Trademark right away, you want to make sure it is available. I recommend registering your trademark as soon as the budget allows. A lawyer will cost more to register it, but will save you time & possible delays if you do something wrong.
Domain Name. This is your Website address. Once you are confident you have a unique name, you get the joy of checking if the Domain Name is available. There are many domain registrars out there and each has a search function. #1 Go Daddy.com has a good search function, because it gives you possible alternates – if your original name is not available. Be prepared to discover your name has already been taken. Don’t get discouraged, get creative and do a variation that is similar.
– Don’ts & Do’s. Avoid using an alternate spelling of your name, because you’ll probably end up sending business to whoever owns the right spelling. You can try adding something to the beginning or end of a name though, or a logical abbreviation. If you are going to incorporate, try adding “Inc” to the end. If you are going to form an LLC, try adding that. Or put a “dash” between two parts of your whole name. Of course this only works if the people who have the name you want, are doing something completely different with the website. If you expect people to input the name directly into a web browser, don’t get too cute with the spelling. Remember that most people will find you online either by reading the name from a business card, brochure or an advertisement, or using a search engine. This is why a creative prefix, suffix, or abbreviation is much better than an alternate (wrong) spelling.
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