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What to know about Adding a DBA to Your Business

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Some businesses want to do business under a name that differs from their true legal name, and that is where adding a DBA, or trade name, comes into play.

What is a Trade Name?

A trade name is essentially any name that you use in your business operations that differs from the full legal name of the business. This involves filing a trade name that shows a DBA, which stands for “doing business as.”

When do you need a Trade Name?

If you use any business name that deviates from your legal name, you’ll need to register it as a DBA. For example, if your name is Mary Richards and you want to do business with any variation of that, such as Mary Richards’ Marketing Agency, then you’ll need to file that trade name so people know you’re doing business under this fictitious name.

The need for a trade name doesn’t just apply to sole practitioners either. If you have a corporation or LLC and you want to do business under another name, you’ll need to register a DBA as well.

Is a Trademark the same as a Trade Name?

No. Some people mix these up; however, they are entirely different things. As explained herein, the trade name is an official name that a company conducts business under. It does not afford any brand protection or allow for unlimited usage rights. A trademark is what you file to protect your brand name, and is often linked to your trade name. Trademarks can protect more than a name; it can be used for slogans, symbols, and logos as well.

If you haven’t filed for a trademark and the usage of your brand name is perceived as a trademark, you may in fact be infringing on someone else’s existing trademark.

Important Items to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Trade Name?

When you’re choosing a trade name, there are a few important things to keep in mind when filing a DBA in Washington, DC.

  • Your trade name cannot be the same as your corporate name.
  • Your trade name must be different from any other organization name or another registered trade name.
  • You cannot use LLC, LP, Corp, etc., in your trade name. The only exception is the word “company,” which is permitted.
  • You can register additional trade names, as there is no limit.
  • If you register your trade name in the District of Columbia, it is only valid for business conducted within Washington, DC. If you plan to do business in another jurisdiction, you’ll need to register the name there too.

Retaining a Small Business Attorney

If you’re starting a new business, retaining the services of a skilled Washington DC small business attorney can help you through the process. If you need assistance with setting up and registering your new business, want to apply for a trademark, or have another pressing legal matter, the attorneys at Tobin O’Connor & Ewing can help with all your small business needs. Call our office or use the contact form on our website to schedule an initial consultation.

Resources:

sba.gov/blogs/difference-between-trade-name-and-trademark-and-why-you-cant-overlook-either

dcra.dc.gov/service/register-trade-name

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