Fictitious Business Names (DBA)

A fictitious business name or DBA (""doing business as") is any business name that does not include the business owner's real name. In California, any business that does not include the owner's surname requires the owner to file a fictitious business statement.

Fictitious Business Name Considerations

When selecting a fictitious business name, it is important to choose a name that your customers or clients will remember. You should also consider the following:

  • Is your desired business name already in use by another company?
  • If you intend to launch a website to promote your business, is there an available domain name for your DBA?
  • Should you trademark your business name?

Depending on your business structure, you may be required to register your business name.

An attorney can help you ensure that your fictitious business name does not violate trademark law. For example, if the business name you registered in California is being used in another state, the person who filed the name first may have superior rights to the business name. Fictitious name statements must be renewed after five years, or whenever your business undergoes a change.

An experienced small business attorney can ensure that your business name is available and help you avoid potential legal issues down the road.

Restrictions on DBAs

Fictitious business names cannot be misleading. In addition, certain professions place restrictions on the use of fictitious business names. For example, California real estate brokers must receive approval from the Department of Real Estate. Financial institutions and insurance companies impose similar restrictions.
A fictitious business name does not offer trademark protection. It is simply a mechanism to register a business on a local level, such as the county clerk’s office where the company holds its principal place of business.

Most financial institutions will not open a bank account under a fictitious business name without proof of registration. If your customers issue payments under your fictitious business name, you will not be able to access the funds unless you can prove that you are associated with that name.

Rather than take your chances when you register your business under a fictitious business name, you should contact the Conejo Valley Law Group to ensure that your business name is available and to prevent future conflicts or disputes. We are experienced with all of the nuances of business law and fictitious business names. Jeff can outline your options, determine whether your proposed business name is available, file the necessary paperwork and advise you on how to protect your name in the future.