How Do I Know if I Can Use the Name I Want for My Business?
Before you start designing a logo or printing business cards, you should know if anyone else can lay claim to the name you want to use. There are three primary places you can look, quickly and for free.
First is the Massachusetts Secretary of State website. You can search the corporate database to see if anyone has formed a corporation using that name. You should also check the reserved names database. This is where people will register a name if they intend to use it but have not yet incorporated. A name can be reserved on this database for six months.
If your name is not in either of these places, that simply means nobody has incorporated with it. It does not mean nobody has trademarked that name. For that, you want to search the USPTO database. If nothing at all pops up on that search, you should be in the clear. More often, there will be hits that are close but not exact, or exact but in different industries than yours. If that is the case, you should consult an attorney to make sure you can use the name.
Finally, the name could be in neither of those two places but still used by someone in business. That could still mean they have legal rights to the name. it is a good idea to check domain availability and do some internet searching with the name as a required search term to see if anyone is using it.
Learn more here about incorporating your business in Massachusetts.
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