Is Your Business Name Fictitious?

What do the businesses Bob’s Flowers, David’s Roofing, and Fat Boy’s BBQ Ranch have in common?  Under Pennsylvania law, they are all businesses who must register fictitious names with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

According to the Fictitious Names Act of 1982[1], “Any entity or entities (including individuals, corporations, partnerships or other groups) which conduct(s) any business in Pennsylvania under an assumed or fictitious name shall register such name by filing an application for registration of fictitious name.”

What exactly constitutes a fictitious name?  Any words or abbreviations other than the surname of the business owner, coupled with words used to describe the type of business or business activity amount to a fictitious name.  Contrast Bob’s Flowers with Smith’s Flowers.  If Bob Smith were the owner of the flower shop, then Smith’s Flowers would not amount to a fictitious name and, thus, Bob would not be required to register.

The rationale behind the fictitious name registry is that people in Pennsylvania have a right to know with whom they are conducting business.  The penalty for failure to comply with the registry requirement is that an unregistered entity may not use the courts of Pennsylvania to enforce a contract entered into while using the unregistered name.  This restriction could make it very difficult for a business to enforce a contract or collect a bad debt.

If you need assistance registering a fictitious name for your business, or any other matter related to managing your business, the attorneys at the Scolieri Law Group, P.C. can help.  Located in western Pennsylvania, our attorneys are experienced in Pennsylvania business law and can take care of the details for you, including the formation of a legal business entity if needed.  Contact us today at (412)765-0546 or

[1] 54Pa.C.S. Section 301 et seq.