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The laws for registering a business vary by state. For example, I registered my business name of The Solopreneur's Guide in my state of AZ, but it is not a state law to do so.
My recommendation is that you go to BizFilings.com and check the list of items under the "Products" tab. There you find a selection for DBA where they can file the paperwork for you to register your DBA. They also have a selection for Business Licenses. I believe it is a $99 fee and they will research and submit a report to you of all the necessary licenses that you will need based upon your industry and state.
I used it and found it to be very helpful.
As far as registering as an LLC or sole proprietorship, the bigger issues are tax and personal liability implications, less so registering and protecting a name. BizFilings.com has information about this, too.
Hope this helps.