What’s the difference between a domain name and a fictitious name? There’s sometimes confusion about the names that businesses use, so you might want to take a look at the definitions here:

  • Business Entity Name: Filing your business entity name with the Florida Department of State registers you to conduct business legally in Florida. The state expects that you will use your business entity name in all of your advertising and correspondence.
  • Fictitious Name: Registering a fictitious name allows you to use the fictitious name rather than the formally registered name of your business entity. When you see the initials “dba” – “doing business as” – it indicates a fictitious name. Registering a fictitious name does not give you legal ownership or exclusive use of that name.
  • Domain Name: Your domain name is your online address. When determining a name for a new business, one of the most important steps to take is finding out if the domain name you desire is available.
  • Trademark: A trademark is a word, symbol, phrase, or design, or a combination of them, that distinguishes a business from other businesses. A service mark is the equivalent of a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product.

Simply using a name establishes “common law” rights to the name locally, and you may legally use the symbol “™” next to the name. However, the symbol “®” may only be used if you’ve acquired a federally registered trademark. Your trademark rights begin whenever you start using a specific trademark, but those rights become stronger if you register the trademark. Registration gives you a legal right to prevent others from using a confusingly similar word, slogan, or symbol. Trademarks for interstate and international commerce should be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Let an experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney help you. When you have a trademark to register, or if you become a part of any legal dispute in Florida over a business name or a trademark, consult immediately with an experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney.

By: Melody Lankford
After graduating from Davidson College, Melody Lankford earned her J.D. from Florida State University’s College of Law in 2004 and was admitted to the Florida Bar that same year. Ms. Lankford joined Raydon Corporation as in-house counsel in 2004. She worked there until 2012, when she founded the Lankford Law Firm. She is an experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney who offers sound legal counsel and experience-based insights to her business clients.