Ohio law permits you to register a trade name for your business which is used to designate and distinguish your business from all others. Registering the trade name also means that you assert a right to the exclusive use of the name. The registration is effective for five years and will expire unless properly renewed.
Trade Name Basics
A trade name can include a word, name, symbol, device or any combination of each to identify the products and services provided by your business. The essential requirement for registration is that it is distinguishable from all other trade names on file with the Ohio Secretary of State's office. A trade name can be registered by an individual or legal business entity, such as a corporation, partnership or limited liability company.
To register your trade name, you must file a name registration application with the secretary of state. An application form is provided by the secretary's office -- this form's use is mandatory. Completing the application form requires the following information: the name and address of the applicant; the trade name; the general nature of the business; and the date the trade name was first used in business. The completed application must be signed and dated. It will be processed by the secretary's office when submitted with the required fee.
Your trade name's registration is valid for five years. To continue the registration, you must file a renewal application form provided by the secretary of state along with the renewal fee. You must file the renewal within the six-month period before the registration's expiration date. If you fail to file the renewal application, the registration will expire. Although you can file a new application for the trade name after the registration expires, you run the risk that the name will be registered by someone else in the meantime.
Ohio Fictitious Name
Under Ohio law, a trade name is not synonymous with a "fictitious name" as it is in some other states. A "fictitious name" in Ohio is not necessarily distinguishable from the names on file with the secretary's office. Although a fictitious name may be registered with the secretary's office, the registration does not carry the protection of exclusive use as a trade name registration does. Ohio law also does not recognize the filing of a DBA -- short for "doing business as" -- although such a designation is similar to the registration of either a trade name or fictitious name.