good-name-240When it comes to businesses, there is a great deal of confusion over the legal meaning and significance of fictitious and corporate names.

A company is a lot more likely to face a legal trademark challenge now simply because more businesses are operating nationally and coming into contact with each other.

Contrary to popular misconception, a fictitious name is not a trademark or service mark. It confers no legal right to use the name. When using a fictitious name, businesses are required to fill out special registration forms, and some states even carry big warnings on these forms advising applicants that they receive no trademark rights with the registration.

The purpose of state fictitious and corporate name registrations is to help police and taxation functions. For example, let’s say a sole proprietor owns a fleet of trucks carrying a different business name. One of the trucks is involved in an accident that injures several people. The police can track down the owner from the state fictitious name records.

Business owners should keep in mind that the right to use a fictitious name be trumped by a prior business trademark or service mark; and before any name is used, an attorney should pre-screen and clear it of any infringement problems.

It would be a mistake to spend a fortune building name recognition and then find out you have to start all over again. For more information, contact Filler & Associates.