Names can be an important part of your business. In just a word or two, names can sum up your philosophy and evoke powerful emotions. But like most parts of starting a business, naming isn’t as simple as it sounds. Depending on what type of company and what name you want to use for your business, registration of that name with the government might be required. Once you’ve thought up the perfect name that is unique (no one else has a legal claim to it), works for web and print, has a great logo to go along with it and fits with the type of business you’re in, make sure you take all the necessary legal steps so you can keep using that name for your business.
Legal Names Vs. Fictitious Names
Most businesses have more than one name. A legal name appears with your articles of incorporation and often contains the name of the business owner or partners in business. When you register your business, the legal name is registered simultaneously, preventing other businesses in the same state from using it. A fictitious name, also called a DBA (doing business as) name or trade name, is a name other than the legal one. If you do not want to use the legal name that your business is officially registered under, you have to register your fictitious name.
When Do you Need a Fictitious Name?
As mentioned above, you have to file a statement for your fictitious name if you don’t want to do business under your official business name. If you are an LLC and you want your business to be known by a name without the “LLC,” this is an example of when you would register a statement declaring your DBA name. As a sole proprietor, the official name of your business might be your own name. To avoid confusing people about the nature of your business, you might want to register a fictitious name.
Other Good Reasons for Registering a Business Name
From the state’s point of view, registering fictitious business names helps keep track of the different monikers a business goes by. This can be helpful if someone is trying to file a legal complaint against a business and needs to know their real name.
On the business owner side, linking your official and DBA name helps cut down on the confusion between you and another business operating under the same name and in the same state. Also, registering a fictitious name allows you as a business owner to do more with that name, like open a bank account. You also gain protection for a fictitious name when you register it. This stops other business owners from taking the name you worked so hard to come up with.
How to Register Your Business Name
Depending on the requirements of the state you are in, the process for name registration will vary. Start by asking the closest county or state government or doing research on your area to find out the correct procedure. You may be in a state that does not require this type of registration or you may be in an area that requires you to research the name to ensure its uniqueness.
Protecting Your Business Name
For more protection of your business name and distinguishing marks, you can apply for trademark rights. This can be a very smart move if you think your business has the potential to grow.
You may want to conduct business under something other than your official business name. After all, a good, unique name can set you apart from competitors. If you want to be known by a name that isn’t your legal business name, learn more about the reasons and process for registering a fictitious or DBA name.