Good question, and one that not enough new business owners ask. Violation of copyrighted names can be tricky, particularly since a violation can come not only from use of the exact name, but also from using substantially similar names.
The best course of action for you is to hire a business lawyer and conduct a search of state and federal copyright filings, fictious name filings, and common law usages for the name.
Depending on the kind of business you are starting and where you will be operating, this can be very critical and an important step in setting up your business.
Good luck in your new venture!
I am an attorney licensed to practice in the state and federal courts of Texas only. Any responses provided herein are offered for educational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is created through the use of this forum, and cannot be created through asking and answering questions here. You are strongly encouraged to hire a lawyer.
You can go to the US Patent and Trademark website and do a quick search. www.uspto.gov. It will not be dispositive and may be somewhat confusing. However, it will provide you a good first glance. Just remember, there are dozens of classes of trademarks. Just because a tradename appears to be taken, doesn't mean that it's taken for your class. There are also state filings. In addition, you can do a quick corporate filing search through the Comptroller of Public Accounts in Texas.
If you need any help, then you should contact a business attorney.
The above statements are provided as general information and not intended as legal advice. Each matter has its own set of unique circumstances that cannot be adequately addressed without consultation. You are strongly advised to hire an attorney licensed to practice law in your state to represent you.
As stated previously, a good place to start would be the USPTO.gov website and do a search of the trademark database. I also recommend doing a google search. This may alert you to other businesses using similar or the same name, which may not be registered for trademark protection. I also recommend looking at any URL's that you may be looking at using with your business to ensure that you will be able to reserve them, or that your business name isn't confusingly similar to another existing URL. As stated before, these searches may not be disposative, but will give you a general picture of what's out there. There are many companies that offer more comprehensive searches if you want to be more certain.
It is better to know these potential barriers to using/protecting a potential brand/business name prior to investing any money in trademark registrations, business filings, or marketing.