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The phrase "doing business as" (abbreviated DBA or d/b/a) is a legal term, meaning that the name under which the business or operation is conducted and presented to the world is not the legal name of the legal person (or persons) who actually own it and are responsible for it.

The distinction between an actual and a "fictitious" name is important because businesses with "fictitious" names give no obvious indication of the entity that is legally responsible for their operation.



In Canada, the term operating as (abbreviated to o/a) is used.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia (and some parts of the United States), the phrase trading as (abbreviated t/a) is used.

South Africa

In South Africa, the phrase trading as (abbreviated t/a) is used.


In several U.S. states, DBAs are officially referred to with other names. Oregon uses Assumed Business Names [1]; Washington calls DBAs trade names [2]; other states refer to trade styles or fictitious business names.

In many US jurisdictions for consumer protection purposes, most jurisdictions require businesses operating with fictitious names to file a DBA statement. This also reduces the possibility of two local businesses operating under the same name. Note, though, that this is not a replacement for obtaining a trademark. A DBA filing carries no legal weight in instances where a trademark would be necessary.

DBA statements are often used in conjunction with a franchise. The franchisee will have a legal name under which it may sue and be sued, but will conduct business under the franchisor's brand name (which the public would recognize). A typical real-world example can be found in a well-known pricing mistake case, Donovan v. RRL Corp., 26 Cal. 4th 261 (2001), where the defendant, RRL Corporation, was a Lexus car dealership doing business as Lexus of Westminster.

Notably in California and also in other areas, filing a DBA statement also requires that a notice of the fictitious name be published in local newspapers for some set period of time to inform the public of the owner's intent to operate under an assumed name. The intention of the law is to protect the public from fraud, by compelling the business owner to record his/her name with the County Recorder, and making a further public record of it by publishing it in a newspaper.

See also


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