Choosing a Startup Name

Balancing Complexity and Protection

Choosing a name for your startup is an important decision that can have long-lasting effects on your business. 

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a name, including its availability, distinctiveness, and relevance to your business. 

It's also important to protect your name once you've chosen it to prevent others from using it without your permission.

The degree of expense and protection you need will depend on the stage of your startup and your budget. Here's a guide to the different options available, from least to most expensive, complex and protective:

Simple/low protection

Do a name search yourself

You can search for available business names in your state or country using online resources. This is a free and easy way to check for name availability, but it's not as comprehensive as a professional name search.

Buy .com domain and create social media handles for the name

If you are using a made up name and are at an early stage, buy the .com, .org and .net domains for that name.

Create accounts with that name on the main social media sites like X, LinkedIn and Facebook. Also create accounts with that name on startup focused forums like Hacker News, Product Hunt and Angellist.

This may be enough to deter other startups from using that same made up name. You can do this before incorporation and is one of the first things you should do once you decide upon a name.

Medium complexity/medium protection

Use a service company for a name search

There are a number of companies that offer name search services. 

These companies can search for available business names in multiple jurisdictions and can also provide you with other information, such as trademark availability. The cost of a name search service varies depending on the company and the scope of the search.

Reserve the name with the Secretary of State

Once you've found a name that you like and that's available, you can reserve it with the appropriate government agency. This will give you the exclusive right to use the name for creating a business entity for a limited period of time. 

For example, if you reserve the name Pineapple Computers Inc. with the Secretary of State of the State of Delaware by making a small payment, no one else can register a corporation with that name in Delaware while that name is reserved for you.

The cost of reserving a name and the period for which the name is reserved varies depending on the jurisdiction.

High complexity/high protection

Hire a lawyer to conduct a comprehensive name search

A lawyer can conduct a thorough search for available business names and trademarks. This is the most expensive option, but it's also the most comprehensive.

File for a trademark

A trademark gives you the exclusive right to use a name or logo in connection with your business. Filing for a trademark is more expensive than reserving a name with the Secretary of State, but it provides stronger protection. 


Choosing and protecting the name of your startup is an important part of starting a business. By following the tips above, you can choose a name that's right for your business and protect it from infringement.