Some people tend to be somewhat confused with the meaning of the trade name, fictitious name and registered name, especially if a company is well known. In actuality the trade name and fictitious name are similar and there is no real difference between the two, but there is a difference between these and a registered business name. The business registered name is its legal name, while the trade name or fictitious name is the name used to advertise or to brand the company product.
Business Registered Name
The business registered name is the legal name of the business--the one the business was incorporated with and registered with the state and the IRS. This involves filing the name registration when the business files as a corporation or Limited Liability Company. This is the name a company uses for taxes and legal matters.
Fictitious or Trade Name
Many businesses choose to operate under another name that is not their registered business name. This is when they create a fictitious or trade name for their product or service. This is the name a business uses to market its product. It is used in advertising and is the name most recognized by the general consumer. This name is placed on signs, websites and billboards. This trade name can be different from the registered name. For instance, Brown Enterprises uses a trade name like “Sweet Buttons.”
Filing the Fictitious Name
When the fictitious name differs from the registered name, the consumer has the legal right to know the actual registered name of the company. This means the trade name or fictitious name has to be filed with the state. This is called a DBA statement or fictitious name statement.
Legal business documents will sometimes take both the fictitious and legal registered names. Often the registered name is listed first and then the fictitious or trade name. For instance, a document might state “Brown Enterprises dba Sweet Buttons.” This indicates to anyone reading the document that “Sweet Buttons” is the trade name and connects to the registered business of Brown Enterprises.
Reasons for using a trade or fictitious name will vary but usually it is a branding decision for the company, and fictitious names are easier to remember and affect the way a business is perceived. This is usually the name that is most identified with by the consumer and the easiest to associate with the product or service.