How To Run A Business Entity Search In West Virginia
Choosing a business name is one of the most important choices you are going to make when starting a new business. The name is going to define your brand and let consumers know who the business is for as long as the business is in operation.
Your business name also needs to be different from any other existing businesses out there. Not only is this a requirement by the state of West Virginia but will also benefit your business down the line. The legal requirement to have a unique business name is to avoid confusion in future legal disputes. However, your unique name is going to be how consumers distinguish your business from all other businesses out there, especially your competition.
One of the first steps you should take before registering a business in Pennsylvania is therefore to run a Business Entity Search.
What Is A Business Entity Search?
A Business Entity Search allows any person to search the state database to find registered businesses. This search is the ideal way to determine whether a business name that you have chosen is available or if it is already registered. If a business name does not exist in the registered business name database, it can be used as the name for a new business.
How To Conduct A Business Entity Search In West Virginia?
Like most states, the Secretary of State compiles and maintains a database of all registered businesses in West Virginia. The database is accessible to anyone on the official West Virginia Secretary of State website. Simply visit https://sos.wv.gov/Pages/default.aspx or https://apps.wv.gov/SOS/BusinessEntitySearch/ and enter a chosen business name in the required field (organization name). A list of search results that contain the same keywords will be returned to you of existing business names in the state.
If your business name appears on the list, you cannot use it. It is therefore recommended to come armed with a few options for a business name so that you have a better chance of finding a name that is available. If the results return a business name that is similar to yours, it may still not be considered to be distinguishable. Always keep in mind that it is in your best interests to choose a business name that is as different as possible from any business names that are in use.
The list will also provide additional information such as the current status of the business. If the status indicates that the business is not currently operating for any reason, this does not necessarily mean that the business name becomes available. There may be legal claims pending against the business. You do not want to use a name that will be associated with another business that has a less than ideal reputation due to past legal or other issues the other business experienced.
How To Make Sure A Business Name Is Unique?
It is generally recommended to follow the “deceptively similar” when choosing a business name. The name should not sound the same or look the same as an existing registered business name. The following rules will help you select or change a name in order to make it distinguishable from other business names:
– The type of business must be included in the business name. For example LLC or Limited Liability Company, Corporation or INC, and so on. However, using slight variations in the abbreviated formats of the type of business will not distinguish the business name.
– A word cannot be replaced by a symbol or a symbol with a word. Although some symbols can be used in business names, they cannot be used to distinguish the business name.
– A number cannot be replaced by the same written word. For example, “one” cannot be replaced with “1” in order to distinguish the business name.
– The words in a registered business name cannot simply be swapped around in order to create a new and unique name.
– The spelling of a word cannot be changed slightly in order to distinguish a business name.
The Difference Between Trademarks, Trade Names, And Registered Business Names
A registered business name is not the same as a trademark and only prevents other new businesses from registering the same name. You do however have the option to register your business name as a trademark. This is not necessary and is usually only done by corporations rather than LLC or other types of businesses such as sole proprietors or partnerships.
If your business will be operating under a name that is different from the name that is legally registered, this name will need to be registered as the Trade Name of the business. This is commonly referred to as “trading as” or “doing business as”. You will need to conduct a business entity search for the business name as well as the trade name to ensure that both are unique before registering the trade name or the business.