Fictitious Business Names

A fictitious business name, also commonly called referred to as a FBN, DBA, doing business as, or assumed name, is a filing that is made and then published in order to put the public on notice that an individual, partnership, corporation, LLC, or other business entity is doing business under a name other than its true legal name.

Any person or business employing a fictitious business name in California must file.  Thus, for example, an individual, John Smith, a solo attorney, may want to open a bank account, receive checks from customers, and advertise his services using the name "San Feranando Valley Law Office".  In order to do so, a fictitious business name filing is required.  A filing would not be required if he did business as "John Smith, Attorney at Law".

Likewise, a corporation, limited liability company, or partnership may also file for a DBA. This often occurs when the corporation, LLC, or partnership is conducting more than one type of business activity, but wishes to distinguish each one to the public, or to clients, in advertising, or to open separate bank accounts under each name used.  To do business under the name "XYZ Corp." in California, XYZ Corp. would need to incorporate in California, but would not need to file a fictitious business name registration. To do business instead, or in addition, under the name "Orange County Tax Filing Services", a FBN statement would need to be filed.

The filing of a fictitious business name statement alone does not impart trademark rights in the name(s) filed: even though a DBA filing may be filed and accepted, others may have superior rights to use the name on the basis of trademark law (or a prior and current DBA filing).  And indeed California's fictitous business name law itself, Business and Professions Code Section 17900 et seq. states:

The purpose of this section is to protect those dealing with individuals or partnerships doing business under fictitious names, and it is not intended to confer any right or advantage on individuals or firms that fail to comply with the law. The filing of a fictitious business name certificate is designed to make available to the public the identities of persons doing business under the fictitious name.

However, the filing of a fictitious business name statement does establish a rebuttable presumption that the registrant has the exclusive right to use as a trade name the fictitious business name, as well as any confusingly similar trade name, in the county in which the statement is filed, if the registrant is the first to file such a statement containing the fictitious business name in that county, and is actually engaged in a trade or business utilizing such fictitious business name or a confusingly similar name in that county.  The upshot of this law is that it may be advantageous in some instances to register an FBN in more than one California county, especially where a business has operations in multiple counties.  However, a California trademark filing and/or federal trademark filing instead of - or in addition to - FBN recording, may be advisable.

Flat fees for attorney filing of fictitious business names in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, Ventura County, San Diego County, San Francisco County, and elsewhere in California - or in Clark County, Washoe County or elsewhere in Nevada - are $450 on a stand-alone basis, inclusive of legal fees, filing fees, legally-required newspaper publication costs, and related advice and counsel.  If required in conjunction with other legal services (e.g., incorporation or LLC formation and/or Corporate Counsel Program membership), a discounted rate applies - inquire for details.  Renewal filings (required prior to the expiration of five years from the initial filing date, if use is continuing), abandonment filings (when the DBA is no longer in use), and amendments (generally required when the information on the initial filing, other than the owner's address, change) are also handled on the same fee schedule.

Fictitious business name statements expire and must be refiled after five years, or earlier if most any of the facts stated on the filing change.  Fictitious names which have been filed but which are no longer in use prior to expiration should be expressly abandoned.

To get started with your California fictitious business name filing, please contact us today.

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Los Angeles, California Fictitious Business Name (FBN)
Doing Business As (DBA) Filings