fictitious name registration

Should I register a fictitious name for my business?

Ever wonder why companies opted to use fictitious business names? There’s a number of reasons to file a fictitious name registration, each of which we’ve tried to cover in some detail. And, as always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding anything you read in this document, please feel free to contact us at your convenience!

There are various descriptive phrases referring to the same thing, so you should understand that we may be using fictitious business name, doing business as (DBA), trade name or assumed name to identify a company that is using anything other than its’ real name in the public realm.

It should be noted that the fictitious business name was originally created was created as a consumer protection tool. Businesses at one point developed the habit of operating under an assumed name until they got into any sort of trouble that might lead to a financial loss at the expense of another, at which time they would just move across town and hang a new shingle under another name. By requiring a DBA be registered before a business can legally practice under an assumed name, this deceptive practice is effectively limited.

Should I file for a DBA?

A number of circumstances exist where it would be in your businesses best interest to register a DBA.

  1. If you are not incorporated, operating as either a sole proprietorship or general partnership, and you regularly perform business under any name other than your own legal name, you are required by law to file a fictitious name registration with your local county government. For example, you start a business mowing lawns, but advertise around the community as “Superstar Lawn Service” rather than advertising as yourself. An exception to this rule exists if you advertise as “John Doe’s Superstar Lawn Service,” substituting John Doe with your own name. In other words, as long as you given first and last name are contained within the name, a fictitious name registration is not typically required.
  2. If your business IS already incorporated, but is operating as something other than the registered name of the corporation or LLC, a fictitious name registration is required by law. The example here is pretty much the same as before: if your business is registered as Superstar Lawn Cleaning Service, LLC but your are advertising and operating as Awesome Lawn Care, LLC, then you are required by law to file a file a fictitious name registration with your state government.

Are there other times when registering a fictitious name is important?

For purposes of business development there are several additional reasons to register a fictitious name. Firstly, depending on the type of business in operation, consumer confidence can be heavily boosted when a fictitious business name is used instead of your own when operating a sole proprietorship. In other words, if you operate a cell phone kiosk, and your credit card charges are made to a business name rather than your own, there is an additional layer of legitimacy that consumers feel comfortable with. This is also true with banks, which, in some instances, will require a fictitious name registration prior to granting you a business account, and the benefits that come with a business account, instead requiring you to do business through one of their personal accounts.

Second, similar to a trademark, it makes sure you are the only business in your local area operating under that name. When registering a DBA, a countywide or statewide search is typically required prior to the registration being completed. If one does come up, you are not allowed to use that name, as it possibly violates Federal Trademark laws and typically won’t pass muster for the registration itself. It is important to keep in mind, however, that just registering a DBA does not in and of itself create a trademark, leaving you without any real protection under the law from other businesses using your name.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a number of reasons why it may be important for you to register a fictitious name as soon as possible. Formcorporate.com is able to help, either by providing you with the documents necessary to complete such a registration on your own or by taking care of it for you, leaving you without the headache and free to deal with the more important aspects of your business. Either way, remember we are your inside source for corporate filings!

 

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