Business Name Search in Alabama | A Comprehensive Guide

Steve Bennett
Business Formation Expert  |   Fact Checked by Editorial Team
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Conduct a Business Name Search in Alabama

Conducting a business name search in Alabama is an essential step for entrepreneurs and business owners in starting an LLC in Alabama. A business name search helps you identify whether a desired business name is already in use or if it’s unique and available for registration. Additionally, it allows you to gather information on existing businesses, such as their registration details, legal status, and contact information.

Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you conduct a business name search in Alabama. You must be guided by all the factors gathered in this article.

What is a Business Name Search?

Business name search in Alabama is an essential step for entrepreneurs who want to start a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This search helps them to ensure that the name they have chosen is unique, available, and compliant with state laws. The process of searching for a business name in Alabama involves using the Alabama business registration system, which allows users to search for registered business names and check for name availability.

Additionally, entrepreneurs also need to check that their chosen name does not infringe on any existing trademarks or copyrights. Conducting a thorough name search helps to prevent legal and branding issues as well as build a strong brand image. In Alabama, taking the time to properly search for a business name or trademark can help entrepreneurs to set their businesses up for future success. We reviewed some of the Trademark Services in Alabama that will help you with your business name search.

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How to Conduct a Business Name Search in Alabama

Before knowing why a business name is necessary, you should now conduct a business name search in Alabama. Even in any different business structure, conducting a business name search takes time. However, with the help of the information listed in this article, you will get an easier option in finalizing your business name.

Step 1: Access the Business Entity Search Tool

The Alabama Secretary of State website has a Business Center Search Tool to help you choose a name for your business. This tool can help you determine the uniqueness and availability of a name. Also, keeping a list of backup names is helpful so you can choose a last name after a few repetitions. You can also check out the Alabama Secretary of State Business Entity Search to access the entity search tool.

Step 2: Perform the Search

On the Alabama website, check the availability of the proposed business name. The search result will display information about similar businesses if the desired business name is already used. While searching, you can exclude using identifiers such as “LLC” to get more results from different business structures operating under the same name. Conduct extensive research using the provided filters before filing the name with the government.

If you want to register a Trademark in Alabama, you can also conduct a trademark search on the United States Trademark Database. Check with the Patent and Trademark Office to see if the chosen name is already in use by someone else.

Choosing a Business Name in Alabama

You now conducted a business search in Alabama. With what you have searched and listed, you will choose the most suitable business name for your Alabama business. When searching for a potential business name, follow these steps:

  1. Brainstorm Ideas: Begin by brainstorming a list of potential names that convey your business’s goals and values, and appeal to your target audience. Consider names that are easy to pronounce, spell, and remember.
  2. Be Descriptive But Not Limiting: Choose a name that gives an idea of what your business does or offers without being too specific or limiting future growth. For example, avoid using a specific location or product type in the name if you plan to expand your business or diversify your offerings.
  3. Check for Availability: Use the Alabama Secretary of State’s business name search tool available at the link provided to check if your desired name is already in use by another registered business entity. Remember that the name should be distinguishable from others to avoid potential legal disputes and confusion.
  4. Consider Domain Name Availability: If you plan to have an online presence, check if the desired domain name is available for your website. Ideally, your domain name should match or closely resemble your business name for consistency and easy online recognition.
  5. Conduct a Trademark Search: To avoid infringing on any existing trademarks or intellectual property rights, conduct a thorough trademark search using the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This will help you identify any potential conflicts with registered or pending trademarks. You can access the Alabama Trademark Search for more detailed information about trademark searches.
  6. Verify Name Requirements: Ensure your chosen name meets the specific naming requirements for your business type, such as including words like “LLC,” “Corp,” or “Ltd.,” if applicable. Refer to your Alabama’s business naming guidelines for specific rules and restrictions.

By following these steps and considering the various factors in choosing a business name, you can create a distinct, memorable, and legally compliant name.

Meantime, In Alabama, if you do not wish to file your business right away but want to hold the name that you have decided on, then you can reserve your business name for 1 Year. You must file a name reservation application in the Alabama Secretary of State by mail or online filing to keep the name.

The Alabama Secretary of State will review your application and approve the name if it is available and not too similar to any other existing business name. If the name is approved, you will receive a reservation number and an approval letter. When filing the Certificate of Formation in Alabama, to form your LLC, you must include the reservation number.

After reserving an LLC name, you must still form the LLC by filing the Certificate of Formation with the Alabama Secretary of State. The LLC name, contact information, the names of the LLC’s members, and the name and address of the LLC’s Resident Agent must all be included in the Certificate of Formation.

File your Certificate of Formation online on the Alabama Secretary of State Online Services page. You may also download the offline file of the name reservation form and submit it with the processing fee to Alabama Department of Revenue – Secretary of State, P.O. Box 5616, Montgomery, AL 36103.

If you are planning to start an LLC in Alabama, make sure that you choose a business name that is suitable for your business. It is best to hire a legal expert or an LLC Services that will guide you through the process.

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How to File a DBA?

Filing Alabama DBA (Doing Business As), a fictitious business name, trade name, or assumed name, allows you to operate your business under a different name than your legal name. The process for filing a DBA varies depending on the state or county of your business. You can select a unique and appropriate name for your business that complies with your Alabama naming guidelines. Ensure the name is not misleading or confusingly similar to other businesses in your area. Afterward, you must search your Alabama business name database to ensure another business does not already use your desired DBA name. Once you have confirmed the availability of your desired name, you will need to register your DBA with the appropriate Alabama Secretary of State. 

The registration process typically involves completing an application form, providing the required information about your business, and paying a filing fee. The required information may include your legal business name, address, ownership structure, and the desired DBA name. Alabama requires you to publish a notice of your DBA registration in a local newspaper to inform the public about your new business name. After the notice has been published for the required time, you may need to provide proof of publication to the Alabama Secretary of State where you registered your DBA.

In Alabama, there are three methods, online, by mail, and in person filing, which costs around $30.

After registering your DBA, update your business records, marketing materials, contracts, and other documents to reflect your new business name. Don’t forget to consult your state or county’s specific DBA filing process, as requirements and procedures may vary.

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Importance of Business Name Search in Alabama

Before researching how to conduct Alabama business name search, you must know why having a business name is important. 

A business name is important for several reasons:

  • Legal Identity: The business name is the official legal identity of your Alabama LLC, which distinguishes it from other businesses. It is a requirement when registering your Alabama LLC with the Alabama Secretary of State. This legal identity allows your Alabama LLC to enter into contracts, open bank accounts, and engage in business activities under its own name.
  • Liability Protection: One of the primary purposes of forming an LLC is to separate the business’s liabilities from its owners’ personal assets. A distinct business name helps establish this separation, reinforcing the limited liability protection the Alabama LLC structure provides.
  • Brand Identity and Recognition: A unique and memorable business name is crucial for building a strong brand identity and presence in the market. It helps customers recognize and remember your products or services and differentiate your Alabama LLC from competitors.
  • Legal Compliance: When registering an LLC, you must ensure that another registered entity within your jurisdiction does not already use the business name. Choosing a unique and available name is essential for legal compliance and avoiding potential disputes with other businesses.
  • Professionalism and Credibility: A well-chosen business name can convey professionalism and credibility, boosting customer trust and confidence in your products or services. An unprofessional or confusing name, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect and deter potential customers.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Your Alabama LLC’s business name plays a significant role in your marketing and advertising efforts. A catchy, memorable name can make your advertising campaigns more effective and increase the likelihood of word-of-mouth referrals.
  • Online Presence and SEO: A chosen business name can improve your Alabama LLC’s online presence and help customers find you more easily through search engines. A strategic business name can contribute to better online visibility and higher search rankings by incorporating relevant keywords and optimizing your website for search.

The importance of a business name search lies in ensuring its uniqueness and legal compliance and avoiding potential conflicts with other businesses. This process helps to establish a distinctive brand identity, protect intellectual property rights, and maintain a professional reputation in the market.

Is it Possible for Two Businesses to Have the Same Name?

Under certain conditions, two businesses that do not compete with each other may share the same name. However, you may be trying to impose on the trademark of the other competing business if either of the following occurs:

  • The company operates in the same geographical area, or
  • The company name is federally registered.

Furthermore, suppose a company name is considered famous or well-known, for example, Dior or Chanel. In that case, it has broader protection, and no other business, regardless of industry or location, can usually use the mark.

It’s best to avoid using another company’s name to avoid future legal issues. 

Can I Sell or Buy Someone Else’s Trademark?

Before selling your trademark, you must incorporate it into a business. A trademark cannot be sold if it is only registered as a placeholder for future use. The trademark must be visible on all products you sell.

You can buy another person’s trademark (known as “trademark assignment”), but the process is legally complex and costly. To purchase an existing trademark, you must purchase all company assets, product lines, or the entire business associated with the trademark.

What Should I Do If My Desired Business Name Is Already In Use?

If your desired business name is already in use, consider modifying it to make it unique and distinguishable from the existing business. You can also explore alternative names that still convey the essence of your business and comply with state naming requirements.

What Should I Do After Finding an Available Business Name?

After finding an available business name, you can proceed with the necessary steps to register your business with Alabama Secretary of State office. This may include filing formation documents, such as Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Incorporation, and paying the required filing fees. Additionally, consider registering your business name as a trademark to protect your brand and prevent others from using a confusingly similar name.

FAQs

How do I conduct a business name search in Alabama?
You can conduct a business name search online with the Secretary of State’s Alabama Business Entity Search.
How much does it cost to search for a business name in Alabama?
There is no cost for searching for a business name in Alabama.
Can I reserve a business name in Alabama?
Yes, you can reserve a business name in Alabama for a period of 120 days with the Secretary of State.
How long does it take to get search results for a business name in Alabama?
Search results for a business name in Alabama are typically available immediately after conducting the search.
What types of businesses need to register with the State of Alabama?
Corporations and limited liability companies must register with the State of Alabama.
Is a trade name the same as a business name in Alabama?
In Alabama, a trade name is a name that a business uses to identify itself to the public, while a business name is the formal name you must register with the state.
How do I change my business name in Alabama?
You must complete Articles of Amendment with the Secretary of State to change your business name in Alabama.
What are the operating restrictions for using names in Alabama?
Names used in Alabama business must not be deceptive, or imply a specific trade name, forgeign corporation, government bodyname or involves dishonest act or implies illegal acts.
Can I use a trademarked name as my business name in Alabama?
It’s generally prohibited in Alabama to use a trademarked name as your business name without the owner’s permission.
Can I change my business type when changing the business name in Alabama?
Yes, the process of changing a business name in Alabama also allows for a change in business type.
What happens if two businesses have the same name in Alabama?
If two businesses have the same name in Alabama, the name must be unique to achieve registration.
Are DBA names available in Alabama for small businesses?
Yes, a Doing Business As (DBA) name is also known as a trade name. Therefore, the answer to this question is same as to error / trade name.
Do I have to search for potential trademark infringement when searching for business names in Alabama?
While not required in Alabama, it still wise to conduct a trademark search if it is available.
Is it possible to check for unused business names on the Secretary of State’s website in Alabama via mobile device?
Yes, you can check for many unused business names via the mobile website for the Secretary of State in Alabama.
If I choose a name that implies an affiliation, does it get restricted by the Alabama Secretary of State?
Yes, Alabama restricts naming if the company implies a connection to another organization, which acting for an unlawful entity in the state.
Can other businesses use my business name in other states?
Yes, other businesses may use your business name in other states, so review all trademarks and use before securing a business name.
What’s the process for notification after securing a business name in Alabama?
An approval/confirmation is sent to the mailing address for the entity after securing a business name in Alabama.
Is domain availability included in the process of business name searching in Alabama?
Domain availability isn’t a part of the process of business name searching in Alabama.
Does Alabama track any impact of business names on minority communities in an attempt toward ending racial injustices?
Alabama doesn’t track any impact business names policies have on minority communities.
How long does a business name stay on file in Alabama?
Filings for business names may stay on file permanently with the Secretary of State’s office in Alabama.
Does my business name registration expire every year in Alabama?
No, with Alabama business registation, unlike others, you do not need to renew registered business.
Do businesses with similar names have like trademarks?
Similar names might not translate to similar trademarks and can vary in Alabama.
Does conducting a business name search guarantee registration in Alabama?
Conducting a search doesn’t guarantee registration for your business name in Alabama.
Who do I contact if there are issues with the Secretary of State business entity search?
For issues related to the Secretary of State’s Business Entity Search in Alabama, reach out via email or phone.
Can I change my business’s legal structure during a name change process in Alabama?
When undergoing the process of a name change in Alabama, it may be possible to change your business’s legal structure.
What additional legal documents do I need when conducting a business name search in Alabama?
You don’t require additional legal documents when conducting a business name search on the Secretary of State’s website in Alabama.
Is there a limit to how many businesses can share the same name in Alabama?
There are no derived limits to how many individual business entities can share the same business name might be or are registered in the state of Alabama.
How long does it take for changes to reflect on the Secretary of State’s website after registering in Alabama?
It may take a few days before changes can reflect on the Secretary of State’s website in Alabama after registering business name.
Can people from outside of Alabama still search for the state’s registered business names using the online service?
It’s possible for non-Alabama residents to search through the Alabama Secretary of State’s online website for registered business names.
Do businesses with foreign ownership have to undergo a business name search verification for their trust authority registration in Alabama?
Alabama doesn’t require business entities to verify their businesses or ownership during a business search in Alabama if there’s a connection to foreign ownership.

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Conclusion

Conducting Alabama business name search is essential for entrepreneurs and business owners in establishing a unique and legally compliant business identity. This process not only helps to avoid potential legal disputes and ensure compliance with state regulations but also plays a critical role in building a strong brand presence in the market. By utilizing the available resources, tools, and guidelines provided by the relevant state or county agencies, business owners can effectively choose and register a business name that stands out from the competition, resonates with the target audience, and contributes to long-term business success.

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