Often, for varied reasons, a business decides to operate under a fictitious name. However, obtaining a fictitious name does not mean that the entrepreneur has formed a legal entity. In addition, it does not mean that the name selected has been “reserved” as a trademark, solely for the use of the registrant.
For example, in the State of Florida, a fictitious name is simply a name registered with the Department of State to inform others that a business is operating under that name.
A sole proprietor operating under a fictitious name does not have the protection afforded by a legal entity (the “veil or wall” protecting the business owner from the business creditors) because the fictitious name does not create such a legal entity.
An enterprise registered legally under the Department of State can also obtain a fictitious name and operate “doing business as” such a name. This situation is different from the sole proprietor situation because the business has also registered as a legal entity and has the protection of the veil, in addition to operating under the fictitious name it registered.
In addition, under no circumstance does a fictitious name provide the same protection afforded by a trademark. Please look for upcoming information about trademarks in separate posts on this blog.
* This material is an excerpt from the book “Does Your Compass Work? Practical Legal Guide for Florida Businesses.” Copyright © 2008-2015 Yasmin Tirado-Chiodini. All Rights Reserved. This excerpt is provided under a Creative Commons License.