A trade name, trading name, or business name is a
pseudonym A pseudonym () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) or alias () is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which differs from their original or true name (orthonym). This also differs from a new name tha ...
used by companies that do not operate under their registered company name. The term for this type of alternative name is a "fictitious" business name. Registering the fictitious name with a relevant government body is often required. In a number of countries, the phrase "trading as" (abbreviated to t/a) is used to designate a trade name. In the United States, the phrase "doing business as" (abbreviated to DBA, dba, d.b.a. or d/b/a) is used, among others, such as assumed business name or fictitious business name. In Canada, "operating as" (abbreviated to o/a) and "trading as" are used, although "doing business as" is also sometimes used. A company typically uses a trade name to conduct business using a simpler name rather than using their formal and often lengthier name. Trade names are also used when a preferred name cannot be registered, often because it may already be registered or is too similar to a name that is already registered.

Legal aspects

Using one (or more) fictitious business name(s) does not create one (or more) separate legal entities.
Pinkerton's, Inc. v. Superior Court
', 49 Cal. App. 4th 1342, 1348-49, 57 Cal. Rptr. 2d 356, 360 (1996) (collecting cases and explaining term of art "doing business as" (DBA)).
The distinction between a registered legal name and a fictitious business name, or trade name, is important because fictitious business names do not always identify the entity that is legally responsible. Legal agreements (such as
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

s) are normally made using the registered legal name of the business. If a corporation fails to consistently adhere to such important legal formalities like using its registered legal name in contracts, it may be subject to piercing of the corporate veil. In English, trade names are generally treated as
proper noun A proper noun is a noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (lingu ...

By country


Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America. Sharing the bulk of the Southern Cone with Chile to the west, the country is also bordered ...

, a trade name is known as a ''nombre de fantasía'' ('fantasy' or 'fiction' name), and the legal name of business is called a ''razón social'' (social name).


Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 mill ...

, a trade name is known as a ''nome fantasia'' ('fantasy' or 'fiction' name), and the legal name of business is called ''razão social'' (social name).


In some Canadian
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
s, such as
Ontario ("Loyal she began, loyal she remains") , Label_map = yes , image_map = Ontario in Canada 2.svg , map_alt = Map showing Ontario's location east/central of Canada. , coordinates = , cap ...

, when a businessperson writes a trade name on a contract, invoice, or cheque, he or she must also add the legal name of the business. Numbered companies will very often operate as something other than their legal name, which is unrecognizable to the public.


Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively small portion in the . It can also be described as the southern ...

, a trade name is known as a ''nombre de fantasía'' ('fantasy' or 'fiction' name), and the legal name of business is called a ''razón social'' (social name).


Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

, the word is used.


Colonial Nigeria Colonial Nigeria was ruled by the British Empire, United Kingdom from the mid-nineteenth century until 1960 when Nigeria achieved independence. British influence in the region began with the Slave Trade Act 1807, prohibition of slave trade to ...
, certain tribes had members that used a variety of trading names to conduct business with the Europeans. Two famous examples were King Perekule VII of Bonny, who was known as ''Captain Pepple'' in trade matters, and King
Jubo Jubogha __NOTOC__ King Jaja of Opobo (full name: Jubo Jubofem; 1821–1891) was an Igbo Igbo may refer to: * Igbo people, an ethnic group of Nigeria * Igbo language, their language * anything related to Igboland, a cultural region in Nigeria See also ...
Opobo Opobo, otherwise known as Opubo, is an Igbo people, Igbo Community in the southern region of Nigeria. The Kingdom was founded in 1870 by King Jaja, originally an Igbo people, Igbo man from Amaigbo (which is in present day Imo State). A greater par ...
, who bore the pseudonym ''Captain Jaja''. Both Pepple and Jaja would bequeath their trade names to their royal descendants as official
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s upon their deaths.


Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...

, there is no filing requirement for a "trading as" name, however, there are requirements for disclosure of the underlying business or company's registered name and unique entity number.


In the United Kingdom, there is no filing requirement for a "trading as" name, however, there are requirements for disclosure of the owner's true name and some restrictions on the use of certain names.

United States

A minority of U.S. states, including
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
, still use the term trade name to refer to "doing business as" (DBA) names; In most U.S. states now, DBAs are officially referred to using other terms; almost half of states, like
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the Northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

, use the term ''Assumed Business Name or Assumed Name;'' nearly as many, like
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

, use the term ''Fictitious Name.'' For
consumer protection Consumer protection is the practice of safeguarding buyers of goods and services, and the public, against unfair practices in the . Consumer protection measures are often established by law. Such laws are intended to prevent businesses from eng ...
purposes, many U.S. jurisdictions require businesses operating with fictitious names to file a DBA statement, though names including the first and last name of the owner may be accepted. This also reduces the possibility of two local businesses operating under the same name, although some jurisdictions do not provide exclusivity for a name, or may allow more than one party to register the same name. Note, though, that this is not a substitute for filing a
trademark A trademark (also written trade mark or trade-mark) is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual pr ...

application. A DBA filing carries no legal weight in establishing trademark rights. In the U.S., trademark rights are acquired by use in commerce, but there can be substantial benefits to filing a trademark application.
Sole proprietors A sole proprietorship, also known as the sole trader, individual entrepreneurship or proprietorship, is a type of enterprise owned and run by one person and in which there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business entity In l ...
are the most common users of DBAs. Sole proprietors are individual business owners who run their businesses themselves. Since most people in these circumstances use a business name other than their own name, it is often necessary for them to get DBAs. Generally, a DBA must be registered with a local or state government, or both, depending on the jurisdiction. For example, California, Texas and Virginia require a DBA to be registered with each county (or
independent city An independent city or independent town is a city or town that does not form part of another general-purpose local government entity (such as a province). Historical precursors In the Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Imp ...
in the case of Virginia) where the owner does business. Maryland and Colorado have DBAs registered with a state agency. Virginia also requires corporations and LLCs to file a copy of their registration with the county or city to be registered with the State Corporation Commission. DBA statements are often used in conjunction with a
franchise Franchise may refer to: Business and law * Franchising, a business method that involves licensing of trademarks and methods of doing business to franchisees * Franchise, a privilege to operate a type of business such as a cable television pro ...
. The franchisee will have a legal name under which it may sue and be sued, but will conduct business under the franchiser's
brand name A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Brands are used in business Business is the activity of making one's living or making mon ...

brand name
(which the public would recognize). A typical real-world example can be found in a well-known pricing mistake case, ''Donovan v. RRL Corp.''
26 Cal. 4th 261
(2001), where the named defendant, RRL Corporation, was a
Lexus is the luxury vehicle A luxury car is a car A car (or automobile) is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transportation. Most definitions of ''cars'' say that they run primarily on roads, seat one to eight people, have four wheels F ...

car dealership Service and repair entrance A car dealership, or vehicle local distribution, is a business that sells new or used cars at the retail level, based on a dealership contract with an automaker or its sales subsidiary A subsidiary, subsidiary ...
doing business as "Lexus of
Westminster Westminster is a district in Central London Central London is the innermost part of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city sta ...
", but remaining a separate legal entity from Lexus, a division of
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. (TMS, also known as Toyota USA) is the North American Toyota The is a Japanese Multinational corporation, multinational Automotive industry, automotive manufacturer headquartered in Toyota, Aichi, Japan. It was ...
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

, filing a DBA statement also requires that a notice of the fictitious name be published in local
newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media The presentation of works in sequential segments ...

s for some set period of time to inform the public of the owner's intent to operate under an
assumed name A pseudonym () or alias () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which differs from their original or true name (orthonym). This also differs from a new name that ...
. The intention of the law is to protect the public from fraud, by compelling the business owner to first file or register his fictitious business name with the county clerk, and then making a further public record of it by publishing it in a newspaper. Several other states, such as
Illinois Illinois ( ) is a in the region of the . Of the fifty U.S. states, it has the , population, and the . is the state's largest city and the fifth with the capital in , located in the center of the state; other major metropolitan areas in ...

, require print notices as well.


Uruguay Uruguay (; ; pt, Uruguai), officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay ( es, República Oriental del Uruguay), is a country in South America. It shares borders with Argentina to its west and southwest and Brazil to its north and northeast; whi ...

, a trade name is known as a ''nombre fantasía'', and the legal name of business is called a ''razón social''.

See also

Pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym A pseudonym () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) or alias () is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which differ ...
Service mark A service mark or servicemark is a trademark A trademark (also written trade mark or trade-mark) is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human ...

Service mark
Trade dress Trade dress is the characteristics of the visual appearance of a product or its packaging (or even the design of a building) that signify the source of the product to consumers. Trade dress is an aspect of trademark law A trademark (also wr ...


{{reflist Brand management Business law Product management Names Intangible assets