Trade Name Registration & Renewal in the State of Ohio

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

Trade Name Registration & Renewal in the State of Ohio

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

Ohio state law allows a business to operate under a trade name if it does not want to conduct business under its legal name. Trade names allow a business to distinguish its goods or services from other brands. By registering a trade name in Ohio, the business is afforded the exclusive right to use the name and can assert that right if another business tries to use the same name. A trade name registration lasts for five years and expires if it is not renewed.

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A trade name can be a word, phrase, name, symbol, device, or any combination thereof that identifies a product or service that a business offers. Any type of business entity can apply for a trade name, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations. In Ohio, trade names are required to be distinguishable from all other registered trade names already filed with the Ohio Secretary of State's office.

Trade Name Registration

Before applying for a trade name, a business should make sure its desired name is not already in use by another business. Ohio rejects trade name registrations when the desired name is already in use. Business owners can check to see what names are available by searching Ohio's business filing portal.

When a business owner is ready to apply for a trade name, they can download a Name Registration form (Form 534A) online at the Ohio Business Central website. They should then fill out the required pages, including the cover letter, credit card authorization form (if paying by credit card), and name registration form. The name registration form requires the following information:

  • Applicant's name and address
  • Desired trade name and date of first use
  • General nature of the business
  • Business's address

The completed application must be signed, dated, and accompanied by the required filing fee. Ohio offers expedited services for an additional fee. A business can pay by credit card, check, or money order. A business can submit its completed application electronically or by mail.

Trade names are valid for five years. If a business wants to continue using its trade name, it must submit a renewal application with the Secretary of State along with the renewal fee. A business must file its renewal application within the six months before the trade name registration's expiration date. The renewal application can be submitted after the registration has expired, but the business owners run the risk of losing the trade name to another company.

Fictitious Names vs. Trade Names in Ohio

Unlike the majority of other states where a trade name is synonymous with a fictitious name or DBA (doing business as), Ohio distinguishes a trade name from a fictitious name. In Ohio, a fictitious name does not carry the same protection as a trade name registration. Registering a fictitious name does not provide the business owner with a right to exclude other companies from using the name, so several businesses may have the same fictitious name on file with the Ohio Secretary of State.

If you need help with trade name registration or renewal in Ohio, you can visit the above-mentioned website for assistance on how to register or renew your trade name. Alternatively, you can seek the assistance of an attorney specialized in this area.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.