By Associate Attorney Katy Currie
An assumed business name, also referred to as a fictitious name or “doing business as” (“DBA”), is when a business operates under a different name than the name registered with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office (for example, Jesson & Rains, PLLC, doing business as Jesson Law Group). Think of an assumed business name as a “nickname” for your business. Keep in mind, an assumed business name is just a “nickname” for your business and not a separate business itself.
North Carolina law allows businesses to operate under assumed business names if it appropriately files an assumed business name certificate with the local register of deeds office. The certification puts the world on notice that the business is being operated under a different name. The assumed business name certificate only needs to be filed in one of the counties in which the business will engage in business, as long as you indicate that you plan to do business in all 100 counties on the certificate.
Why operate under an assumed business name? Some businesses may want to create a catchier, shortened version of its business name for marketing or branding purposes, or maybe it simply wants a new business name. Sometimes businesses decide to start a separate “branch” of the business without forming a completely new business. For example, if you are a photographer, and you decide to do videography, you may file for an assumed name for the videography business instead of forming a second business that then has to file a separate tax return, get a second EIN number, and separate bank accounts. However, you should not go this route if separation of the two businesses is good from a liability protection standpoint. A creditor of the videography business is a creditor of the photography business, and vice versa. The only way to avoid that is to form two separate businesses.
Businesses need to be careful when using assumed business names to not infringe on any trademarks. A business should conduct a name and trademark search before filing the assumed name certification.
For assistance or for more information regarding assumed business names, or about your business in general, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Jesson & Rains!
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