A DBA is not a separate business or division. It is like a legally registered nickname for your exact same business.

“D/B/A” stands for “Doing Business As”. In Illinois, we also call this an “Assumed Business Name”. Sometimes it is also called a “Fictitious Business Name”. Regardless what it is called, it is just an alternative, legally registered name for your business entity (or for you, if you are a sole proprietor doing business without a separate legal entity).

Sometimes people register a DBA for marketing purposes. For example, if someone has a videographer business called “XYZ’s Videos” and they specifically want to advertise their services to the wedding market, they may feel they would be best served by a name that speaks directly to that market, and might adopt the DBA, “X’s Wedding Videos”. Upon registering the DBA, they can legally use either the original entity name or the DBA, but either way, it’s still the exact, same business.

Sometimes people might register a DBA when they own a franchise. In that case, they typically have an entity with a legal name that is not related to the franchisor’s brand, and the franchise structure allows them to register a DBA that does reflect the franchise brand, which helps in all sorts of practical ways.

If you are registering an entity formed in one state to do business in another, but the original entity name is not available in the new state, the new state will typically require you to conduct business in their state under an available DBA.

There are a number of reasons to adopt a DBA. In Illinois, a DBA (or Assumed Business Name) for a separate legal entity is registered with the Secretary of State.

If someone is doing business as a sole proprietor without a separate legal entity but they want to do business under a name that is not their own personal name, they might register a DBA for that purpose. The DBA means that individual is doing business as [the registered DBA]. In Illinois, an individual registers a DBA (or Assumed Business Name) in the county where the business is located.

Typically, a DBA is consumer-facing. It is a name under which you intend to market your business. As such, it is important that your preferred DBA is available for you to use as a trademark, and that you have trademark rights to use your preferred DBA. This probably means some trademark searching is in order. Click here to read about trademark rights and searching. Click here to reach the office.

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