Naming Your Business: Fictitious Names

Business Law for Entrepreneurs Series

By Adrienne B. Haynes, Esq.

Managing Partner, SEED Law

“Name your intention”- Patti Digh

Selecting a business name is an important decision. For each of my companies or initiatives, it’s something that I take time to decide, make sure the name is based on a clear mission, and that it communicates clearly to my client and world.

When you’re considering the name of your business, I recommend coming up with a few ideas and performing a online searches to see if there is anything similar in the market or the markets you want to operate in. The name you chose must be distinguishable from the name of any other same entity type currently in existence or a name that is currently reserved. The name you choose should also reflect the entity designation you’ve selected, such as LLC, Inc., LP, or similar abbreviation.

Fictitious names come up often, and there is some confusion about them. First, a fictitious name is any name under which a person or company is doing business other than their true or corporate name. For instance, John Doe and Jane Smith may be the shareholders of Doe and Smith Ventures Inc., and operate a shop called John and Jane’s Coffee Shop. Doe and Smith Ventures Inc. must register the fictitious name under which it is doing business and is publicly known, John and Jane’s Coffee Shop.

Fictitious name registration is completed through a filing with the Secretary of State and must be renewed every five years. The filing may be completed online or by mail. Under Missouri law, failure to file a fictitious name is a Class D misdemeanor.


· Filing a fictitious name does not mean that you have formalized a business or have any limited liability protections.

· Filing a fictitious name does not mean that you have exclusive rights to the name.

This article is an overview of business naming considerations and does not cover every legal right or obligation, consideration, exception, or restriction. Every business decision should be well researched and discussed with a professional before being made.

To schedule a consultation with a SEED Law attorney, you can give us a call at (816)945–4249 or schedule your consultation today here.

Additional Resources:

Revised Statutes of Missouri:

417.200 Fictitious names to be registered

417.210 Registration, when and how — contents — cancellation of fictitious name

417.217 Foreign businesses, registration, when — exemption from, when

417.220 Registration fee

417.230 Penalty for failure to register




The mission of SEED Law is to partner with entrepreneurs and business owners to provide legal solutions that encourage sustainable business practices. In this Blawg, we'll share timely, practical information and resources for entrepreneurs.

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Adrienne B. Haynes

Adrienne B. Haynes

My name is Adrienne B. Haynes and I focus my time, talents, and treasures on the intersection of law, entrepreneurship, and community designed innovation.

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