How to check if a Texas LLC name is available
Due Diligence Checklist for Choosing a Texas LLC Name
How do you know if a desired name is available? In other words, how do you know if you'll be infringing on someone else's rights?
There are many resources you'll need to navigate when performing due diligence on the availability of a Texas LLC name. We've listed a handful of our favorite resources below that will help you select a name for your new Texas LLC.
Don't forget to check out our article on the rules for naming a Texas LLC.
Search the Texas SOS Database
The first step to determining whether a Texas LLC name is available is to check for existing businesses with the same or similar names within the Secretary of State's (SOS) database. There are three ways to search the SOS database for name availability: (1) call the Secretary of State's name availability hotline at (512) 463-5555; (2) email the SOS at [email protected] (it takes about 1 day for the SOS to respond to email requests); or (3) perform an online search via SOSDirect (you'll have to register for an account and pay $1.00 per search).
When you call or email the SOS, they will perform a search of their database and tell you one of three things: (1) there is no apparent conflict at this time (this is what you want to hear); (2) the desired name will require a signed consent from [insert similar business name]; or (3) the desired name is NOT available (i.e., a direct match exists). It is important to note that an approval by the SOS of the desired business name does not mean that you are immune from an intellectual property infringement claim/lawsuit. For this reason, you must review additional databases to uncover potential infringement.
Search Other States' Databases
Search the Federal Trademark Database
It is important not to neglect the federal trademark database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A federal trademark comes with enhanced intellectual property (IP) rights.
Use the link above and perform a "Basic Word Mark Search (New User)" If you locate a registered trademark that is the same as, or similar to, your desired LLC name (especially if the description of goods and services for the trademark is similar to what your business will be doing), we recommend choosing a different LLC name.
If the trademark is listed as "dead," that does not necessarily mean the trademark is not being used, but rather the owner (for whatever reason) did not file the necessary paperwork to keep the registration active.
Search the County Clerk’s Databases
Unincorporated businesses like sole proprietorships and general partnerships do NOT typically file anything at the state level. These businesses typically register an assumed name/DBA at the county level (with the County Clerk’s office). Therefore, only searching state and federal databases would not locate a sole proprietor using your desired LLC name.
Unfortunately, there is not one database, that we know of, where you can search multiple county databases at once. We recommend searching, at a minimum, the county clerk’s database for the county of your principal place of business and any county database where you intend to do business.
Search for Suitable Domain
Can Multiple Business Use the Same Name?
Businesses with the same name can technically coexist if they operate in distinct geographic areas or provide entirely unrelated services, but we recommend choosing a unique name for your Texas LLC.
If you elect to use a name that is already in use in another state you will need to make sure that (1) the out-of-state business is not doing business in Texas and (2) you do not market to or accept business in any state in which the other business is already operating. A signed coexistence agreement would be ideal in this situation.
Zachary Copp, Esq.
Mr. Copp is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the founder of the Copp Law Firm. He has been licensed in Texas for 19 years and has personally formed over 3,000 Texas LLCs since 2015. He was recognized as a Rising Star by SuperLawyers® for seven straight years. See full bio →