D/B/A

by Michael D. Larsen

There is sometimes some confusion about what a “d/b/a” is. A d/b/a is shorthand for “doing business as.” You create a d/b/a in California by filing a “fictitious business statement” with the county clerk in the county where you are doing business. If you have created a corporation named “Acme Detergent,” for example, and you want to use only the name “Fine Sonoma Detergents” in your marketing materials, your business cards and your website, you will need to file a fictitious business statement with the county clerk which informs the public that “Fine Sonoma Detergents” is actually ”Acme Detergent d/b/a Fine Sonoma Detergents.”

The idea behind the requirement to file a fictitious business statement is that it lets the public know what person, corporation or other entity is behind the name that they see in public. In our example, the public can look up the fictitious business statement and find out that “Fine Sonoma Detergents” is in fact a corporation named “Acme Detergent.”

Filing a fictitious business statement and using a d/b/a does not create new company. A d/b/a is not something separate from the person, corporation or other entity which filed the fictitious business statement.

Filing a fictitious business statement is probably not sufficient to protect your use of the name under trademark laws.