Doing a web search is the place most people start when checking on a business name. While a general search can let you know if there are other similar business names, there are some more detailed searches you should also perform.
If you will be doing business locally, search your local phone book or online yellow pages (YellowPages.com, for example)
You can search YellowPages.com or other online sites for businesses in your state, or you can go to the website of your state's secretary of state and search the business name register database.
Another way to check to see if your business name is being used in your state is to attempt to register your name in your state. Go to the secretary of state website to learn how to register your business name.
If a business name has been trademarked, you can find it on the USPTO website, in the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).
Depending on how large your market (local? state? national?) will determine how much you want to search. It is a good idea to go through all of these searches, because they are all at no cost, and you can then be reasonably sure you won't be infringing on the name of some other business. There is no guarantee, but at least you have done your due diligence.
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