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Feasibility of Name

If you have chosen a business name, you may do the following in order to determine if the name chosen is available for use:

  • Check the Register of Deeds office in your county and surrounding counties for similar names listed as assumed names or partnership names.
  • Check online to determine if a proposed name would be available.
  • Check to be sure your name doesn't contain any restricted words.
  • Check business directories, city directories, chamber of commerce lists, etc. in your locality for similar names.
  • For a fee, hire an attorney or a trademark search firm to conduct a trademark search through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for similar Federal trademark or service mark registrations.
  • Call or search the Trademark Registration website of the NC Department of the Secretary of State to determine if the words which make up your proposed name have been registered as a trademark or service mark under North Carolina law
  • Conduct searches similar to those outlined above in other states which you plan to operate by contacting the officials in those states which are in charge of similar types of registration. The appropriate offices and the details of registration may vary according to the laws of each state.

You are responsible for deciding which of these steps you should follow to determine whether the name you’ve chosen for your business entity is available or not.

Should you decide upon a name that is already reserved by another business entity, it is possible to transfer that name to your company if the current user of the name agrees. To do this you need to submit form BE-04, “Notice of Transfer of Reserved Name.”

Word Prohibitions

There are statutory and administrative code prohibitions to using specific words in a name.

Statutory Prohibitions

Keep in mind when naming your business that there are certain words and phrases which are prohibited by law from being used in the name unless you have received permission from the proper legal authority.

Those words and phrases include:
  • Bank, Banker and Banking
  • Cooperative, Co-op
  • Mutual
  • Trust

The Department of the Secretary of State will also reject the following words used in names unless the applicant can provide documentation that proves his or her business entity is legally qualified to provide the service indicated:

  • Architect, Architecture, Architectural
  • Certified Public Accountant and abbreviations of such
  • Engineer, Engineering
  • Insurance
  • Pharmacy, Prescription Drug, Drug, Prescription, Rx, Apothecary
  • Realtor
  • Surveyor, Survey, Surveying
  • Wholesale (unless a letter is submitted with the Articles stating that the corporation will comply with N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-29 by engaging principally in wholesale rather than retail business.)
There are several other words which the Department of the Secretary of State could reject in your corporate name without adequate documentation that your business is legally qualified to provide the service implied in the corporate name.

Administrative Code

18 NCAC 04 .0503 Deceptively Similar and Distinguishable Names

(a) Designations of entities, such as "company", "co.", limited", "ltd.", "corporation", "corp.", "incorporated", "inc.", "professional association", "p.a.", "limited liability company", "L.L.C.", "professional limited liability company", and "limited partnership" shall be disregarded in determining if a proposed entity name is distinguishable upon the records of the Secretary of State, provided that such words appear at the end of the proposed entity name. Such words shall not be disregarded in such determination when they appear in the body, rather than at the ending, of the proposed entity name.

(b) Articles, conjunctions, prepositions, punctuation, spaces, and the substitution of an Arabic numeral for a word shall be disregarded in determining whether a proposed entity name is distinguishable upon the records of the Secretary of State or otherwise permissible for use in a proposed entity name.

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