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When considering a name for your new company, there are some required registrations (usually filed at the county level), and there are state registrations. Depending on the structure of your business, you will most likely need only one or the other.
1. Trade or fictitious name: In most states, this registration is done at the county level by filling out a short form and paying a small fee. Usually a sole proprietorship or a partnership requires such a registration, but it may also be required of a corporation if the company will be operating under both the corporate name and a dba.
2. Incorporating. As part of the process of incorporating, you'll be registering your corporate name with the secretary of state in the state you'll be doing business. This registration process will reveal whether any other business has a confusingly similar corporate name.
These "required" registrations not only show others that you are using a particular name, but are also a means of tracking your business by the local taxing authorities.
For additional protection, and if you plan on doing business nationally, you may want to look into registering a trademark or service mark. Conduct a search of the federal register of trade and service marks. You may refer to http://www.uspto.gov for the patent and trademark office information. At the time of this posting, the initial application fee is $325 (or $650 in some instances). There may be additional fees (ranging around $100 each) for various renewals and other actions.