An “assumed name” is a name used by a business that is not the true legal name of the business. It can be thought of as a fictitious name or a pseudonym. A doing business as name, or “d/b/a” for short, is typically used by a sole proprietor or a partnership, but it can also be used by large companies who want to maintain name recognition. There are criminal and civil penalties associated with using an assumed name without having made the proper filings.
By filing an assumed name certificate, you are notifying the public that a particular business entity intends to conduct business under a name other than its legal name. This means that, in general, an entity may advertise under the assumed name or use the assumed name on business cards. Assumed names, however, should not be used to sign contracts or other legal documents.