Assumed Business Name

Assumed Business Name

An assumed business name is the trade name, or fictitious business name, under which a business is conducted and presented to the world. It is not the legal name of the person or entity who actually owns the business and is responsible for it. It is sometimes also referred to as an ABN, DBA or Doing Business As name. An ABN may be assigned to an individual or an entity (like a corporation or limited liability company). In the event that it is assigned to an individual, the person is still acting as a sole-proprietor (meaning that they do not have any protection from liability if they are sued for something related to their business). Using an ABN along with an entity like an LLC gives the added flexibility of developing a brand name after the company is formed, allowing a company to change their brand without having to change the legal name of the company, and permits a company to use signage and brand names that don’t include “LLC” or “limited liability company” in the title. The State of Oregon charges a fee of $50 per year to register an ABN, and the name may be associated with a business in specific counties only, or within the entire state. In some states, such as California, assumed business name registrations are made at the county level. Some states treat assumed business names a preemptive of other similar business names. Generally, a company is required to use its full legal name, including its entity type designation such as “Inc.” or “LLC” when communicating with the public. Failure to use the full legal name may allow aggrieved parties to hold the founders of a company liable for the business’s liabilities. An assumed business name registration allows a company to not use its full legal name and still avoid any potential claims of confusion about the identity of the company and the limitation of liability applicable to its founders. Website URLs have been a source of litigation regarding assumed business names, but most jurisdictions do not require a company to register its website URL as an assumed business names.