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Roedel Parsons Blache Fontana Balhoff & McCollister, A Law Corporation

Understanding trade names versus 'doing business as'

Names are inherently important, whether in personal life or in a corporate setting. Individuals have legal names on their birth certificates, but they may also have a wide array of nicknames by which they are known. Likewise, businesses typically have trade names, but they may also have a "doing business as" or DBA name.

Here are the main differences between these two forms:

Trade names

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State, a trade name is a particular arrangement of words (or a single word), a symbol, a device or a combination of the above that is intended to differentiate a certain business from its competitors or from other businesses in general. Individuals can apply for trade names, but so can limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships and corporations. 

DBA names

A DBA is essentially a fictitious name that a business assumes for marketing purposes or for other reasons. For example, a limited liability company may officially be named "Cary Johnson Medical Supply & Device Manufacturing," yet it may choose to do business as "Stellar Medical Supply" in order to sound more appealing in brochures and online advertisements.

Many Louisiana businesses choose to operate with a DBA. Applications for DBAs are filed at the local Clerk of Court's office in the appropriate parish. 

The requirements

Louisiana has a surprising number of laws governing trade names and DBAs, not to mention those that govern related issues such as trademarks or service marks. To avoid any issues, it is best to consult a professional with a detailed knowledge of Louisiana's trade and commerce laws.

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