Choosing a Business Name

Deciding on a business name is a crucial step to branding and marketing your business. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

What is a trade name?

A trade name is any name used in the course of business that doesn’t include the full legal name of all the owners of the business. In the case of a limited partnership, corporation, or LLC, it’s any name that differs in any respect from the name registered with the Secretary of State.

Will I need to register my business or trade name?

Businesses will need to register a trade name or “doing business as” with the State of Washington if you are one of the following:

• sole proprietor or partnership using a name other than the full legal name of the owner or owners.
• corporation, limited partnership, or limited liability company operating under a name other than the name registered with the Office of the Secretary of State.

How can I find out if a business or trade name has already been registered?

You can research existing business or trade names using the following resources:

Washington State Department of Revenue — Online business database search

Secretary of State Corporations Registration Data Search — Corporation and limited liability company names

U.S. Patent and Trademark Commission — Search for federally registered names