If you need to sue a business, you must first determine exactly who owns it. If you make the wrong choice, you may win a judgment but not be able to enforce it or you may lose your case altogether.
Below are some resources to help you figure out who to name in your lawsuit.
- State Personal Property Tax Information Database
- Business Data Search
- Business Trademark
- Business Licenses
- Finance Companies and Financial Institutions
State Personal Property Tax Information Database
In Maryland, businesses must pay an annual tax based on the value of their personal property (furniture, fixtures, tools, machinery, equipment, etc.). The State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) administers the valuation process. Counties and towns collect the tax based on the location of the property.
Business Data Search
You can search for a business through the Business Express's Business Entity Search. The results show the business's principal office and other contact information such as the resident agent. The resident agent is the person designated to accept service of a lawsuit. The results will also have the type of legal entity of the business (e.g., corporation, limited liability company, sole proprietorship, etc.).
Fictitious Names - A fictitious business name is the name of a business that is different than the owner’s name. For example, if a person is operating a business under the name "Elf Web Design," Maryland requires that person reserve that name with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation.
TIP - When you look up a business, you will find a principal office listed. This may not be the same location as the one where you conducted your business transaction. To find out if this is the same business, contact the resident agent or owner. Ask if they have a business at the location with which you are familiar.
Business Trademark and Trade Name
A trademark is a unique graphic symbol, slogan, tag line, program name, brand, or logo associated with a business, but is different from the business name, which distinguishes it from another business or person. Any person who adopts and uses a mark in Maryland may apply to register the mark with the Office of the Secretary of State. Also, businesses can (but are not required to) register a trade name with the SDAT. A trade name is a name, symbol, word, or combination of these things by which a business is known to the public to distinguish it from another business or person.
Search the trademarks and service marks database on the Maryland Secretary of State's website.
Regulatory licenses are issued by the Department of Labor. The Department of Labor's website has a searchable database of licensed individuals and their locations.
Individuals working in the following areas need to obtain occupational or professional licenses in addition to State and local business licenses:
- Bay Pilots
- Certified Public Accountants
- Master Electricians
- Examining Engineers
- Heating Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
- Home Improvement Contractors and Sales
- Interior Designers
- Landscape Architects
- Office of Cemetery Oversight
- Professional Engineers
- Professional Land Surveyors
- Real Estate Appraisers
- Real Estate Brokers and Sales
- Secondhand Precious Metal Object Dealers and Pawnbrokers
- Sports Agents
- Members of the Boxing, Kickboxing and Wrestling Industry
Finance Companies and Financial Institutions
The Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation regulates and licenses the operation of banks, credit unions, consumer loan companies, sales finance companies, mortgage companies, and collection agencies. You can find information about these specific types of businesses on their website.