Does Your Business Need A Fictitious Name?
When you named your business, or when you initially formed it and needed to tell the state the business’ name, you may have had a lot of considerations in mind. Maybe the name is a technical name, or maybe it has some meaning, like it is related to your family.
But you may eventually find you have a problem: your official business corporate name isn’t the best, most catchy, or most marketable name when it comes to promoting your business. You don’t want to have to actually change your corporate name, but you also want to use a name that may be more marketable, friendlier, or which just relates better to the general public.
Using a Fictitious Name
Well, there is a way to have two names—it’s called the fictitious name or what you may have seen as a “DBA” which stands for “doing business as.” A fictitious name is a corporate name that you use, that isn’t the actual name of the company. It is the name that you “hold out” to the public.
Registering With the State
Could you just use your fake name, or any name you want different from your official corporate name, without actually registering a fictitious name with the state? Sure, you could, but you would have a number of problems.
A bank won’t let you open a bank account in a fictitious name that isn’t registered with the state. You won’t be able to take out credit or get a loan under a fictitious name that isn’t registered with the state.
You may have a problem signing contracts in your fictitious name, if it isn’t registered with the state.
Imagine clients who sign contracts with your business, thinking they are doing business with one company (your fictitious name that you hold out to the public), and then seeing your official corporate name on contracts or checks. It can raise suspicion in the eyes of customers and the general public.
Registering the Name
You don’t have to register your fictitious name when you form your company—you can register the name with the state whenever you want. You don’t even need a legally formed company—a sole proprietorship can do it also (for example, a photographer who doesn’t have a legally formed company can still register the fictitious name “Bob’s Photography”).
There are no limits or rules to the fictitious name that you choose, except for some that are obvious, like you cannot use anything obscene, or violate another’s intellectual property.
Note that when you register a fictitious name—or any corporate name—the state does not do an intellectual property check; your registration with the state does not mean that you own the intellectual property related to the name that you are using.
The opposite is true also—just because you own intellectual property, like a trademark, does not mean you can use that name as a fictitious name, without registering with the state.
Call our Fort Lauderdale business lawyers at Sweeney Law P.A. at 954 440-3993 today for questions about government regulation and keeping your business as safe as legally possible.