Oregon Business Name Search (Step-by-Step Guide)
Even with the help of business services through the Secretary of State, registering a business has financial consequences. Always discuss business setup with a business attorney.
How to search for Oregon business names
The state of Oregon makes it easy to search for new business names. First, navigate to the Oregon Secretary of State Corporation Division. Once there:
- Enter the business entity name in the box labeled ‘Business Name.’ You do not have to add the entity type, i.e., Inc., Corp, LLC.
- Under “Search Methods,” tick the radio button for “Business Name Availability Check.”
- To the right, ensure that the radio button for “Search for Active and Inactive Businesses” is checked.
- Under the box for “Registry Number,” click the “Search for Business Name” button.
If the LLC name is available, the system will return a message that states, “‘BUSINESS NAME’ appears to be available, however, Business Registry staff will make the final determination.”
If the name is not available, the system will list any active business names that are the same or similar. For example, if a prospective business owner were to search “Aldi,” the system lists four businesses with “Aldi” in them, along with the entity type and entity status. A business owner should not search for an “exact match,” as that would not find companies with similar names. For example, searching for Aldi results in:
- Aldi Enterprises LLC, an inactive DLLC;
- Aldis Manufacturing LTD, an inactive FLP;
- Aldis Sales II, LLC, an inactive limited liability company; and
- Aldis Sales LTC, an inactive FLP.
The search tool also lists the registry number as a clickable link. Clicking the registry number or the name brings you to a page with the company’s information, including why it is inactive and the date the company became inactive.
How to register a business name in Oregon
When you are ready with a business name that best describes your business and is available in Oregon, on social media, and if needed, through the USPTO, navigate to the Oregon Secretary of State webpage to start the process of registering the business.
Choose the entity carefully. Each type – corporation, nonprofit corporation, limited liability company, sole proprietorship, or partnership – has its own tax consequences, including double taxation or pass-through taxation.
Additionally, certain entities offer more protection than others. For example, if you set up as a sole proprietorship and someone sues you, the plaintiff could go after you personally. However, if you set up a corporation, you as an individual are protected against personal lawsuits – the plaintiff can only sue the corporation.
If you are unsure of how taxes and other factors will affect the business, consult with a business law attorney to set up the business.
Oregon trademark/DBA name search
Oregon does not have a searchable database of trademarks. However, the state does list trademarks registered in a dataset available online. Search by adjusting column filters. For example, click on the column titled “Correspondent Name.” Click on the three vertical dots to the right of the column header. Choose how you want to sort the data. The system also gives you the ability to filter the results.
If a business wishes to determine whether a business name, trade name or logo has been trademarked at the federal level, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark lookup.
Check if the domain name is available
Before a business owner registers its name, the business owner should take additional steps to ensure that the name is available for domain and social media use.
Navigate to a site to check domain names. GoDaddy is a popular domain registry where a business owner can check names. Enter search criteria, such as a domain name or business name to search for it. If it is taken, the system will tell you. For example, using GoDaddy’s site, once you click on the search button, the site will tell you whether a name is taken. If it is, GoDaddy will suggest other names.
We do not recommend using another extension with the same domain name as another person. Prospective customers searching for you could end up on another business’s or person’s website and you could lose that customer. Now, if you enter “blablastuff,” you will find that “blablastuff.com” is available. If the business owner or marketing director believes that is not so similar that it will confuse prospective customers, a business owner could choose that name. The domain name does not have to be the same as the business name, though that is the best scenario.
We recommend that you reserve not only the dot-com, but several of the more popular extensions, such as .org, .net, .store, and .info. When you or the IT person sets up the website, he can point the extra extensions to the .com page.
Check if the social media name is available
Open Facebook and Twitter if you plan on using either of them. On the Facebook app, type the business name in the search bar. If someone is already using it, it shows up in the top results. If not, the dropdown list might show someone’s name and hashtags.
The Twitter search function works the same way. Start entering the business name to see if other businesses with the same name pop up.
Naming considerations for Oregon business entities
Naming considerations are different for each type of business entity.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
A prospective business owner does not have to register a sole proprietorship unless the prospective owner uses an assumed name. For example, if Joe Schmo is a sole proprietor and names his business Best Tech Auto Shop, he must register the name.
A general partnership is two or more people doing business. As with a sole proprietorship, the general partnership does not have to be registered unless it uses an assumed name. If the partners do not want to register the partnership, all of the partners’ names must be in the business name.
Business owners that choose to incorporate as a corporation must register the corporation name. Corporations can be for-profit or nonprofit and must file an annual report. It must include one of the following words: Corporation, incorporated or company.
Limited liability company
A limited liability company’s name must include “limited liability company” or one of the two acceptable abbreviations of L.L.C or LLC.
Limited partnerships have one general partner and one limited partner. It must have the words “limited partnership” and cannot be abbreviated.
Limited liability partnerships
A limited liability partnership has two or more people doing business and is restricted to businesses offering professional services, such as architects, accountants, dentists, attorneys, etc. The name must include “limited liability partnership,” “L.L.P.,” or “LLP.”
How are business licenses obtained in Oregon?
Oregon provides a search feature to determine whether a business needs a license. Whether you need a license depends on location and type of business.
Is a registered agent mandatory?
All businesses except sole proprietorships must have a registered agent to accept service of process for legal documents.
How do I make amendments to my company?
I forgot to file my annual report and the state administratively dissolved my business. How do I reinstate it?
A business owner can reinstate an administratively dissolved business if it has been less than five years since the state dissolved the business. only limited liability companies and business corporations can reinstate. The business owner will need the Oregon registry number (file number, entity number or business identification number) to complete the process.
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