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September 17, 2016

Do DBA Names Need To Be Unique?

I want to use a business name that is already taken. Do DBA names need to be unique?

– X, New Jersey

For example:
1) I wanted to name my company Joe’s Pizza, LLC, but that was already taken.

2) I ended up incorporating with my full name:
Joe Arthur Fonzerelli Pizza, LLC
.

3) Can I still create a DBA name as Joe’s Pizza?

4) What if someone else has already registered a DBA name of Joe’s Pizza? Does the DBA name need to be unique in the state where it is registered? (New Jersey)

Thank you!

NOTES: All names above are fictitious. Any similarity to a real person or company is coincidental. My real circumstance happens to be with a software development company.

Answer

DBAs, as well as your legal corporate name, cannot be identical to another name already in use in the state.

While the state might permit to register Joe’s Pizza as a DBA (because the names aren’t identical letter for letter due to the “LLC” at the end), if the owner of Joe’s Pizza, LLC objects, he could probably successfully sue you for trademark infringement and/or unfair competition claim for choosing a confusingly similar corporate name.

You should avoid choosing a confusingly similar name to a business already in existence, particularly if the two businesses compete in the same market.

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