When planning to start an Oregon LLC, first comes your big idea, your product or service, the meat and potatoes of your business. After all, that’s how you’ll build a dream business.
But after the initial rush of deciding to take your idea to market, you have to answer an important and pressing question: “what do I call it?”
Every LLC needs a name, preferably a catchy one, specifically one that isn’t already in use. After all, despite how clever it may be, you can’t steal someone else’s name.
“But,” you may ask, “how do I know if a name is already in use?” It’s a good question. There are a lot of businesses in Oregon, a lot of names to check. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to go about it: performing an LLC name search.
Quick Note: If you’d like to save time, an LLC formation service (like LegalZoom and ZenBusiness) can perform an LLC name search and register the business on your behalf. No need to navigate confusing state-website portals or file anything yourself.
Reasons to Perform an LLC Name Search
Checking for Oregon LLC name availability is the most common reason to perform a search, but it’s far from the only one. Here are a few other reasons you might search for a name:
1) Finding Similar Names
You don’t want potential customers confusing you with another company, especially if that company is a competitor. Your proposed name might be available, but there could also be multiple businesses out there with deceivingly similar ones. If you don’t want your LLC getting mixed up with other businesses, this might prompt you to find a new name.
2) Checking Your Business Status
Once you’ve filed the Articles of Organization and started your Oregon LLC, you can periodically check its status by searching for your existing name. This will confirm your business’ good standing with the state and provide your entity Registry Number, which may be required for future filings.
3) Registered Agent and Office Information
At some point, you might need to send a business service of process. Or, more positively, you might want to partner with them. In either case, you’ll need their Oregon registered agent name and office address, readily available through a name search.
4) Maintaining Current Business Information
When modifying your LLC’s information – like changing your registered agent or principal address to a member or a registered agent service – you will want to confirm the information that the Secretary of State already has on file. A name search will take care of this for you.
How to Perform an Oregon LLC Name Search
No matter your reason for performing a search, your go-to spot is the Secretary of State’s Business Name Search. Here, you can find both name availability and specific business information.
Maybe you’ve come up with an ideal business name, but you don’t know if someone’s already used it. To find out if it’s available, select “Business Name Availability Check” under “Search Methods” and enter your desired name in the search bar. Make sure you enter it exactly as you would use it for your LLC. If you see any results, the name is taken and you’ll need to come up with a new one. But if no results appear, your name is free for you to reserve or register.
When seeking an existing business, enter its full or partial name in the search bar. There are a few different search methods, and the more exactly you enter the name, the faster your search will be. But if you don’t know the exact name, you can enter single keywords, sound-alike words, or synonyms too. Click any of the results to access the following information:
- Registry Number
- Entity Type
- Entity Status
- State of Jurisdiction
- Registry Date
- Entity Name
- Registered Agent Name
- Registered Agent Address
- Mailing Address
- Manager Name(s)
- Manager Address(es)
- Name History
- Filing History
This information isn’t necessary if you’re simply checking a name’s availability. But it’s very useful if you need to contact another business or make sure your LLC’s information is up to date.
What If My Name Is Unavailable?
So you went to the Business Name Search, you plugged in your desired name, you hit search, and there it was: your precious name, already in use. What now?
If your LLC is domestic (formed in Oregon), your only option is to start brainstorming ideas for a different one. Just don’t use one that’s too similar. Then, when you’ve found an acceptable, available name, go ahead and reserve it.
For foreign LLCs, the process is a little trickier. If the name under which you originally registered your LLC is unavailable, you may need to register an “assumed name.” This is a name, other than your “real and true” name, that you’ll use to do business in Oregon. Find more information and assumed name forms here.
How to Make an Oregon LLC Name Distinguishable
Whether you’re reserving a name idea, registering a new name, or choosing an assumed name, you’ll need to abide by Oregon’s business name requirements, so your LLC name must:
- Contain an identifier like “limited liability company,” “L.L.C.,” or LLC”
- Not use the terms “cooperative,” “corporation,” “corp.,” “incorporated,” “Inc.,” “limited partnership,” “L.P.,” “LP,” “Ltd.,” “limited liability partnership,” “L.L.P.,” or “LLP”
- Use only the English alphabet, Arabic numerals, or Roman numerals
- Be distinguishable and available in the Secretary of State business records.
But how does the Secretary of State determine distinguishability? Fortunately, this page provides a nice overview. The following changes will make your name unique:
- One or more different letters or numerals (excluding the addition or deletion of “s” to make a word plural/singular/possessive)
- One or more different key words
- Rearranged key words
- Creative or unusual spellings
- A difference in how a number is expressed (spelled out, Arabic numerals, Roman numerals)
If you find that your name is unavailable, any of these alterations will distinguish your name without getting rid of it completely.
What you do next depends entirely on what your goal. If you’re checking for name availability and your name is free in Oregon, you can proceed to reserve it and use it on your Articles of Organization.
When you have a great idea for a business name, you might want to protect it. In Oregon, you can’t reserve a name directly, but you can register an assumed name for $50. Then, when you’re ready to start your business, you can cancel the registration and use the name on your Articles of Organization. Or, if you’re ready to start your LLC right away, you can use that name on your Articles of Organization, which will register it automatically.
Need Help Starting an LLC?
Like we mentioned earlier, an LLC formation service can take care of all the paperwork for you. Using a formation service guarantees that your filings will be completed and submitted correctly. It also eliminates the stress of doing it yourself and gives you more time to develop your business plan, network, or just relax.