Updated: January 28, 2015
When a person wants to run a business under a name other than their own name or the name of their company, the owner should consider using an assumed name. This is more commonly known as a “D/B/A” or “doing business as.” For example, Joe the Plumber may want to use the business name Joe’s Plumbing Services. In that case, his business would be listed as “Joe the Plumber D/B/A Joe’s Plumbing Services.” This applies if you’re running your business as a sole proprietorship, not as an LLC or Corporation filed with the Secretary of State.
Using an assumed name allows the name of the business entity to differ from the service or brand name of the business itself. For example, if Joe the Plumber, LLC wants to also provide carpentry services, he can use an assumed name to do business as Joe’s Carpentry (for example, Joe the Plumber, LLC d/b/a Joe’s Carpentry). Using an assumed name saves the time and expense of registering a new entity. Whether you need to register an assumed name depends upon the business entity.
If you’re operating as an LLC, you should probably also consider registering your tradename with the Louisiana Secretary of State. This provides notice to your clients throughout the state that your business is being run under a brand, rather than the legal name.
Corporations and partnerships are exempt from the registration requirement. Everyone else, including LLCs and sole proprietorships, should register the assumed name with the parish in which the business conducts business. The penalties for failing to register include fees and jail time.
If this also sounds a bit confusing, that’s because it is, even to myself and another lawyer who practices business law. We think that’s because this area of the law was written prior to the state’s adoption of the Limited Liability Company Law, and was never amended to reflect that. So sole proprietorships, corporations, and partnerships are all pretty clear. But when you form an LLC, the law isn’t exactly clear on what should happen. That’s why we recommend filing an assumed name affidavit with the parish and a tradename with the state if you plan on operating under a brand rather than your legal name.