What Business Owners Need to Know About Assumed Business Names (DBAs)

October 08, 2015

Doing Business As

Your business may have a legal name, but you may want it to go by another name. How do you accomplish this legally? Many businesses choose to operate under an assumed name. Before you register a DBA for your business, there are a few things to know about it.

An assumed name, or d/b/a (“doing business as”), is a business name that is not identical to the official name of the business. There are no restrictions on the number of DBAs a company can have, but each assumed name must be properly registered.

Why Businesses Use Assumed Business Names

There are many reasons why a business may decide to use a different name other than its legal name:

  • An assumed name might better represent a business’ products or services.
  • An assumed name may be catchy and better appeal to the business’ customers.
  • The business may want a different name to differentiate a new segment of business from its current business.
  • The business’ legal name may just be too long or cumbersome so the business simply wants something easier to use. 

Corporations and LLCs

Corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) must register assumed names with the Secretary of State’s Office and the County Clerk’s Office where the principal place of business is located.

Sole Proprietors and Partnerships

Sole proprietors or partnerships are operated under the owner’s name. Frequently, these owners do not want to use their personal name for their business. Sole proprietors and partnerships are required to file a certificate of assumed name with the County Clerk’s Office where the business is primarily located and with the County Clerk’s Office in each county where they conduct business. 

Registering a Business in Texas

Unlike filing “trade name,” filing an assumed name does not create any special rights to use the name or prevent another party from using the name. When a company registers to do business in Texas, either because it is just forming or because it is registering as a business from another state, the Secretary of State’s Office reviews the name of the company to make sure that the business’ name is not deceptively similar to the name of another company already registered in Texas.

However, if you want to be sure that no other company can use your business’ name or its assumed business name, you must trademark that name with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

As a best practice, be sure to include your assumed business name in your contracts. For example: ABC, LLC, d/b/a Assumed Name.

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Topics: Business Best Practices, Legal

Kathy Tremmel

Tremmel Law

Kathy Tremmel has significant experience both as a business attorney and corporate executive. Her career spans both legal practice and business management and she opened her own solo law practice in January 2010. In additional to running her own practice, she also is of Counsel with Selman, Munser & Lerner, which is a business transaction law firm in Austin, Texas. Ms. Tremmel has more than 10 years’ experience as a business attorney, providing transactional legal services to a diverse client base, from start-up ventures to well established companies. She helps companies with all their contracts, including customer agreements, non-compete agreements, employment agreements, buy-sell agreements, loans, and leases, helps people set up new businesses, and represents buyers and sellers of businesses. In addition, Ms. Tremmel has 10 years of management experience working with start-up companies. As VP of Operations at Tusker Group, an international litigation support company, Ms. Tremmel led international teams, managed production and quality issues, handled price negotiations, worked closely with clients to determine the scope of their projects, provided project management services, and developed, implemented and documented best practices for processing and training. Ms. Tremmel earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Colorado School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College. She is a Texas licensed attorney and a certified Project Management Professional.
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