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Unformatted text preview: He can’t make all the other John Smiths change their names. So
too, the ﬁrst Smith’s Restaurant can’t stop all other Smith’s Restaurants from using that same name.
McDonald’s Hamburgers can’t make McDonald’s Hardware Store change its name, and McDonald’s
Hardware Store in Manhattan can’t sue McDonald’s Hardware Store in San Francisco.
However, just as you have rights to your own identity, so does your company. One John Smith can
sue another John Smith for using his identity, having bills sent to the wrong address, or purposely
confusing people. McDonald’s Hamburgers can sue just about anybody trying to use McDonald’s for a
business selling fast foods.
The confusion starts because business names are registered by different authorities in different places
and on different levels.
• The ﬁrst and simplest business name is your own name, which might be enough for John Smith
using Smith Consulting or operating Smith’s Restaurant. This kind of business name normally
requires no additional paperwork, although most business owners end up registering a name
anyhow to establish their legal claim to it. • The second common level of business names is called DBA (for “doing business as”) or Fictitious Business Name, which gives an individual the right to operate under a business name
with signs, bank accounts, checks, and so on. These are generally registered and legalized by
county governments within states. There might be a McDonald’s Hardware Store as a DBA in
many counties within a given state, and across many different states.
To register a business with a ﬁctitious business name, call your county government for details.
You can expect that you’ll have to visit an ofﬁce in the county government, pay a fee of less than
$100, and do some legal advertising, also less than $100, probably using forms you can ﬁll out
in the same ofﬁce.
Somebody will probably look up the registry to make sure that yours is the ﬁrst business in the
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This note was uploaded on 01/26/2014 for the course BUINESS 102 taught by Professor Unknown during the Winter '09 term at University of Phoenix.
- Winter '09