Name Availability

People have been creating thousands of companies in Delaware every year for a long time, and it may feel like all the good names are used.

Rest assured that this is not the case. On this page, we have included some suggestions on ideas on how to pick a name for your corporation or limited liability company, and a way to check to see if those names are available from the State of Delaware.

Also keep in mind that some names that may not have been available in the past may now be usable. Delaware removes companies from their database every year either because those companies decide to shut down, or because they fail to pay their franchise taxes. Others go off the rolls because they merge or are acquired by another company.

The importance of choosing a company name

  • The name of your company will be its first impression.

  • It will convey meaning beyond the mere words you select.

  • Your name is valuable property that may be registered at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

  • A company announces to the world that it is a separate entity from its owners by having a corporate or other entity designation in the name.

Check name availibility online with Delaware Intercorp, Inc.

Sometimes a simple or descriptive name is best. If the name is not important to the marketplace, you may use the address of the apartment building you plan to own with the company - 110 Main Street, Unit 4, LLC. Or you may want to dress it up to make the name convey meaning - Rock Solid, Inc., for a stone working company, for example.

If your chosen name is not available, there are a variety of ways to modify the name to make it work. The Division of Corporations uses a literal database with exclusions. Simply adding an "S" to make a plural of one word in your name may make the system accept your name. The name you use must be distinguishable on the database, that is all. The State of Delaware does not reject sound alike or look alike names. Remember that these rules are significantly different from the trademark rules.

You can usually find a descriptive or fluff word to add to your name to distinguish it on the database. If you chose Dragonfly, Inc. - and that name is taken - you could add a descriptive word like "publishers" for a printing company. Perhaps Dragonfly Publishers, Inc., is available.

If you use initials in your name, consider expanding all or some of them in your name. Or, you may consider using initials instead of whole words.

Some common suggestions that do NOT work are adding "The" and changing the corporate identifier. The State ignores use of the word "the" in entity names. So "The Delaware Company" is the same on the database as, "Delaware Company".

Another frequent suggestion is to use a different identifier, Corp, for Inc. or Corp. for Corporation. The State considers all identifiers to be equivalent. So Corporation, equals, Corp., Company, Co., Ltd. et cetera. In the end, even "The Delaware Company" equals "Delaware Inc." so both of those names could not exist on the database at the same time.

The name you use for your corporation will be the name that must be on any official contracts and corporate documents. Remember that before you chose a name that is a mile long. This is becoming a worldwide problem as outlined here. But please feel free to call and talk to one of our incorporators about your naming issues.
Many people begin the process of finding a name for a business by simply thinking one up. For the more creative among us, this might be fine. Others may find they quickly become stumped. Before you worry too much about a name for your company, note that the name you use in the marketplace need not be the name of the company at all. For example, Pepsi is a trademark used in commerce by PepsiCo, Inc. (Or one of the other 150 various "Pepsi" entities that have been created in Delaware over the years). So the name of your company need not be the name you present to the world. The name of the entity need not change if you come up with a better idea.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Here are some ways to spur creativity we have seen clients use.

  • Foreign Language:
    A client likes butterflies so she names her corporation Farfalla Corp. Farfalla is Italian for butterfly. Translate

  • Initials:
    The most common way to name a company is to find a combination of initials for the people involved. If my name was Alpha Charlie, I may try to create AC Corp. This type of two or three letter name is often taken. So look to adding another descriptor to the name - AC Construction Company.

  • Thesaurus: has a wonderful thesaurus function to help you find words that mean the same as some other word. For example, you may want to call your company Smart Solutions Inc. If that name is taken, or if you think it too obvious, you may choose Noetic Solutions Inc. instead.

  • Dictionary:
    It is always a good idea to look up the words you use in your name. You never know when some obscure reference will make your name look really silly to someone.

  • Art:
    Sometimes inspiration comes from art. Imagine that. Look, listen and think about what you like in art. Maybe the name of a famous painting would describe your vision of your company best - But be careful of existing trademarks and copyrights.

  • A surprising source of inspiration, at least in the USA, are license plates on automobiles. Some of the abbreviations found on these little billboards are fantastic... AV8R = "Aviator", for example. There are galleries all over the net of license plates. My favourite plate of all time is CU L8R on a modified Mustang GT.

  • Another way to name a business is to be descriptive of what the business does or sells. Corporate Management Inc. is fairly straight forward. Acme Office Supplies, Inc., is too. These names can be boring, but if they tell the customer in a crowded marketplace exactly what you do and sell, one of these may be the best choice.

Check name availability online with Delaware Intercorp, Inc.

Name availability and reservations are available online with the Delaware Division of Corporations. However, if you plan to use Delaware Intercorp, Inc. to file your certificate of incorporation or formation, we advise you NOT to reserve your name directly with the Division as doing so may result in filing delays and additional fees. It is much easier to complete this process if you reserve your name through us. You may check to see what names are being used that are similar to what you want on the Division Website.

Here are some things you can do to help protect your chosen name from harm.

  • Make it unique:
    There are many ways to come up with a name. You can pay a consultant to help provide a disciplined approach to creating a name or, if you prefer, you can come up with one that works for you on your own.

  • Google it:
    Once you have selected a name, or a list of names, you should check carefully to see if anyone else is using a similar name for a similar product or service. This is to prevent trademark problems down the road.

  • Clear it with the USPTO:
    The United States Patent and Trademark Office maintains a registry of trademarks and service marks that are protected under U.S. Law. You may perform a preliminary search of the Trademark database online. I say preliminary because there are extensive errors in the database. It should not be considered authoritative by any means. There are companies that can do a manual search of the Federal archives and of the State Databases as well for a fee. If you do not feel comfortable that your mark is clear of any competing marks, you should consult a qualified intellectual property attorney.

  • Register it with the USPTO:
    Ownership of a trademark is not determined by who owns the trademark registration. Trademark registration is allowed to the entity that owns the mark. You must prove your ownership of the mark in order to register with the Patent and Trademark Office. Very generally speaking, you must have a unique mark within your classification of goods and services and you must have been the first to use it in interstate commerce. The USPTO makes available a FAQ about trademarks that is very informative.

  • Use the name consistently:
    The date you use your chosen name in commerce is called, logically, your "first use" date. This date is one of the primary determinants of trademark ownership. Another factor in determining ownership is continuous use in commerce. When you put your name on a website, a billboard, an invoice or flyer, you are using it in commerce. You should document these uses as you go. This is usually very easy to do because you are putting the name out in public view.

  • Be vigiliant in pursuit of offenders:
    If a trademark is left undefended, the rights of its owner may be diminished. Keep an eye on who might be using your trademarks in commerce. This has become much easier with the advent of the internet. Of course, the internet also brings a global market together. In that respect, defending your marks may be more difficult. Google has a number of special searches that can help you find links and usages of your mark.

These are just a few of the things you can do to protect your trademark. You may want to look into creating a Delaware corporation to hold your trademarks. That way you can take advantage of the Delaware General Corporation Law and the corporation, if it does no other business here, will not even have to file a State income tax return.

Finding a name to use for your entity can be a trying process. But, Delaware Intercorp, Inc. is here to help. We can clear and reserve your chosen name for you online, and if you ask for it, we would gladly help you look over some alternatives in the Delaware Division of Corporations Database. When we look into the system, we can see all the names that are taken and some that were taken in the past and have since been abandoned.
Abandonment on the Division database means the company using the name in question went void for one reason or another and no longer exists. Abandonment is more incentive to check thoroughly into any trademark problems, not less.

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