MyCorp FAQs: What is the difference between a DBA and a Trademark?

Deborah Sweeney

04/10/2015 20:54 PM
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On today’s MyCorp FAQs segment, we’ll be going over the difference between a DBA and a trademark- two things many of our customers have confused in the past. It’s easy to see how the two could be confused when they both offer the same service: protection. Both a DBA and trademark will protect your business’s name, but it’s the ways in which they protect, and the lengths they go to that differ.

So let’s start out with a DBA.

A DBA (or a Doing Business As) is a way to claim your business’s name, but that’s all it claims- the name itself. With a DBA, your name can’t be used by another business, but only as far as the state level. A business in the next state over can still register with the same name as your business as long as no one else in their state has claimed that name as well.

The actual filing for a DBA is pretty simple. First, you perform a name search, fill out the necessary paperwork, and pay the fee. Some states require you to publish your new business name in a local paper, though not all.

A trademark, on the other hand… 

Unlike a DBA, a trademark can be more than a name. You can file a trademark for all different sorts of branding: logos, designs, symbols, and phrases can all be registered. Once registered, a trademark is your property. When you register a trademark, you and you alone have the rights to use that trademark. The only catch being that, yes, no one can use the same exact mark that you do, but they can use the same words as long as they aren’t exactly the same. So Amy’s Bakery can be registered as two different businesses in California and Idaho as long as the font, color, or imagery is different.

Because the trademark is a bit more extensive than a DBA, the process to file one is also pretty extensive. You have to apply to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and wait a month for them to examine your mark and identify if there are any problems. Then your mark enters a thirty-day waiting period, where other people can challenge your right to register it. Once that waiting period is over, the trademark is officially yours.

Luckily, we can help you file both a DBA and a Trademark! Decide which form of protection is best for you and let us do the hard part. Visit our website at or give us a call at 1877 692-6772!