By: David L. Marrison, OSU Extension Educator & Associate Professor
A recent question received by the Ohio Ag Manager Team was: “How do I register my farm’s name in Ohio?” First, remember that choosing the right name for your farm business is important. Your farm’s name should be memorable and let customers know the purpose of your business.
From a legal perspective, business names must be registered with the secretary of state in Ohio if the business engages in commerce under any name other than the legal name of the owners (for sole proprietorship and partnerships) or if the business is a corporation or limited liability company.
The Ohio Secretary of State approves and keeps a registry of business names. Ohio law requires that new business names do not conflict with other previously registered business names. Some business names are subject to additional restrictions and/or requirements. It is important to register your business name before applying for your Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN) with the Internal Revenue System.
Your business name can be registered with as a trade name or a fictitious name. The difference between the two is that a trade name must be distinguishable from any other registered trade name and cannot be used by others once it is registered. A fictitious name does not have to be distinguishable and is not protected from use by another business. Registration of a fictitious name does not give the user any exclusive right to use the name. Fictitious names are often used when a business wants to become a franchise.
The registration fee for a trade name or fictitious name is $50 and the registration is effective for five years. The registration must be renewed at some point within the six months before the registration expires. Upon filing the renewal, the name is registered for an additional five years. If no renewal is timely filed, the name registration expires. The current renewal fee is $25.
Complete application procedures and forms can be found at the Ohio Secretary’s of State’s web site at: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Businesses.aspx