There are many things to think about when starting a new business in Louisiana. One of the most important is the business name.

Business owners have many theories and strategies when it comes to picking a name for their new endeavors, but one thing that people sometimes forget to check is whether anyone else thought of the same name first. One of the first places owners should go is to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Commercial Database. New businesses register with the secretary of state’s office, and their names go into the database. You can also call the office to ask for a preliminary check. You can also file a reservation form with the office so that you can reserve a name you like for up to 120 days before you are ready to open the doors to your new business.

You do not necessarily have to register your name as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but it is a good idea, especially if you are planning to conduct business across state lines, including any online business. It is also a good way to see if anyone else is using a name like yours in your area of commerce. Even if the other user is not currently operating in Louisiana, it might choose to do so later, or it might interfere with your plans to expand your market out of state.

You can search registered trademarks at the Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Search Service (TESS).

It isn’t always easy to find all the businesses with identical or confusingly similar names, logos or identifying features. When planning a new business, it’s a good idea to speak with a lawyer about choosing the right name for the business, and the best techniques for protecting it.