In short: Yes, you can trademark a DBA.

You can trademark a DBA or fictitious business name if you use the name to brand your products or services. If you use a particular DBA as your brand name, it is entitled to the same legal protection that any other brand name would receive. By trademarking your DBA, you would prevent competitors from using the name to create confusion or mislead consumers.

In order to register a trademark, you will need to demonstrate to the United States Patent and Trademark Office that your DBA is distinct and that you intend to use it as a brand for your goods or services.  Trademarks exist specifically to prevent your competitors from using similar branding elements. As such, your trademark will only cover your particular field or market.

Trademarks vs DBAs

Some view trademarks and DBAs as an “either or” proposition. While some may make this tradeoff, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. You can register a DBA, register a trademark, or both. Let’s examine some of the differences.

Protection

A DBA will offer protection only at the state level. If you plan on staying within one specific area and not expanding, relying on a DBA and a common law trademark my be enough. However, if you ever want to expand to the national level (or, these days, online) you’ll want to register your trademark with the USPTO and receive protection on the national level.

Coverage

A DBA is only going to protect your name. If you want protection for anything else, such as a logo, you will need a trademark.

Cost

DBAs are generally cheaper than registering a trademark. However, as we mentioned, cutting cost here means you ultimately receive less protection. While a business DBA will cost (generally) in the $10 to $100 range, the cost for registering a trademark is several hundred dollars.

Common Trademark Topics for Business Owners

Trademarking Your DBA

If you are considering using a distinct DBA, trade name or fictitious business name, you should contact us today to discuss protecting that name with a trademark.

 

Trademark attorney Xavier Morales

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