If you plan to open a business in California, one of your first steps will be choosing a business name. Unfortunately, this process is not as simple as brainstorming for the best title.
Understanding the requirements for naming different types of business entity in the state can make the process much easier.
Name reservation process
The California Secretary of State registers business names and makes them available in a searchable database online. This is a good place to check your ideas, but know that you will still need to get official approval from the SOS before you may begin to use one. They will not only check your business name for availability but will ensure that it meets federal and state requirements for the particular business type. They will then grant or deny your request.
While you go through the process of getting approval, you may reserve a name for up to 60 days to prevent someone else from claiming it during your registration process. If your 60 days lapses, you must wait at least one day before renewing your reservation but may then reserve it for another 60 days.
Business name requirements
The names you can choose will depend on the type of business entity you have selected. Limited liability company names, limited partnership names and corporation names must each be reasonably distinguishable from other businesses of the same type on record.
In other words, the SOS will check your LLC name only against other registered LLCs; your corporation, only against other registered corporations; your limited partnership, only against other registered limited partnerships. They will not consider fictitious business names or trademarks for any of these business structures.