When starting a company, owners often think long and hard about their business name. After all, the right name can attract a number of customers and elevate their brand. Business owners will often do a search to see if anyone else is already using the name they have in mind. Once they feel they’re in the clear, these owners may file a DBA, which stands for “doing business as,” with the county and consider their work toward protecting their name complete. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception.
According to the Business and Commerce Code section of Texas law, a DBA must be filed at both the state and county levels. So, let’s say John Smith files a LLC with the state of Texas. Texas automatically registers his business as “John Smith.” However, John wants to call his business “Motorcycles & More.” He would need to file a DBA with both the Texas Secretary of State and the county in which he wanted to do business.
While, at the county level, a clerk will check to be sure John’s DBA is available, the state takes the DBA filing as a simple notice of information. The state will not determine if the name is already in use. So, if John filed “Motorcycles & More” with his county, another individual could also submit that fictitious business name to the state of Texas without any issues, since the state does not first check to see if the name is in use.
The best way to protect a business name is by registering it as a trademark. Doing so will ensure your business name is protected in the United States. If you have questions regarding filing a DBA or ensuring your business name will be protected, a Houston business law attorney can help. I have more than 28 years of experience in business formation and business counseling, and can ensure you understand your options and choose what’s right for you and your business. Contact Patricia M. Davis, Attorney at Law today to schedule your initial consultation.