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Trade Name, Fictitious Business Name, & DBA Forms

How to Keep Legal Rights to Your Trade Name

A trade name is a valuable business asset and you need to protect it to guard the reputation and good will of your company. A trade name is the name under which a business carries out its operations. Trade names represent the products and services of a business. A business name has to be exclusive and distinctive from another. It is with the trade name that people identify a business. Trade name may also be referred to as a fictitious name or doing business as (DBA) name.

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Trade names or business names and trademarks are different. By registering a trade name, a business does not automatically get any trademark rights or protection. However, if a company attaches its name to a product or service produced by the business, the name will then be considered a trademark or service mark and be granted protection if it is unique enough. Trademarks are identifying marks that can be used to distinguish one product from similar others. It can be a picture, a symbol or the company name written in a particular pattern. Trade names can either be the ones used to register the business with the local authority, or a fictitious name under which a business carries out its activities.

While selecting a trade name, one should ensure that the selected name does not misrepresent the actual business they are doing. Further, it should not be identical to another entity operating in the state. A business can use its trade name as trademark so long as it does not infringe the trademark rights of another. Infringement occurs when there is a probability of customer getting confused between two businesses because of similar trade names or trademarks.

Although filing a DBA is not mandatory in all states, it is a commonly accepted business practice. You can register a trade name with the Office of the Secretary of State by paying the prescribed fee. The filing will be accepted only after thorough review for duplication or conflict of interests. The same process shall be applicable for trademark registration. A registered trademark represents its parent business. You can easily learn how to trademark a picture, symbol, or a company name by referring to online resources.

A trade name can be the original name of the business or a fictitious business name. While choosing a trade name, conflicts are likely, and therefore a trade name search needs to be conducted. A trade name search helps to reduce costs by preventing infringement claims. There are a number of online service providers who can assist in a trade name search. After selecting the right trade name, you can use it for effectively advertising your goods and services. Trade names are valuable tools in business to business marketing and business to business sales.

You can consider the following tips while selecting your trade name:

  • Keep the trade name short and easy to remember
  • Select a trade name that depicts the products or services offered by your business
  • Always try to avoid abbreviations
  • Use trade names distinctive from that of your competitors

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