Legal Forms: Business Names

A sole proprietor, corporation, partnership, LLC or association may request permission from the Superintendent to do business in a name other than its legal name. This is often referred to as a trade name or “dba” (doing business as).

To be approved, the Superintendent must be satisfied that the proposed name is:

  • Not misleading or likely to mislead the public; and
  • Not the same as or is clearly distinguishable from a name already registered with the Division by an existing brokerage; if it is not distinguishable from the name of an existing business, the Superintendent may approve it if the broker with the similar name consents in writing. (Ohio Administrative Code Section 1301:5-3-03)

The Superintendent has separate approval authority from the Secretary of State. Therefore, even though the Secretary of State has approved a corporate name, or the use of a fictitious name by a sole proprietorship, the Superintendent can still deny the use of the name.

Franchise or Trade Association Name

  • The Division will not permit a franchise name or a registered trade association name to be included in a broker’s name or dba (i.e., Century 21, Re/Max, REALTORS), however, these may be used by brokers in advertising.

Reserving a Business Name

  • Availability and name approval can be obtained in advance. An approved name can be reserved in advance for minimal fee. This is clearly recommended prior to ordering business cards, yard signs, and embarking on filings with the Secretary of State’s office.
  • The broker reserving the name has sixty days to apply for a license in the reserved name.

Once a “dba” is approved and issued, it is the only name that may be used by the broker in advertisements.