If you are starting a business in Ohio, one of your legal obligations is to register your business name. This must be done with the Secretary of State. The Ohio Small Business Development Centers notes you need to first identify your business structure to ensure you file the correct form and provide the needed information to complete your business name registration.
You can create one of six business types. For all of them except one, you must have a unique business name. A sole proprietorship is the exception because you are the only owner and may be the only employee, so you are allowed to start this business using your own name. You must file for a DBA, which means doing business as, if you will not be using your name. The other structures, which require a unique name, include limited liability company, limited liability partnership, general partnership and limited partnership. When you register your business name, you are also registering the business structure. You must use the form that corresponds to your business structure.
To choose a name for your business, you need to make sure it is available. Business names can be trade or fictitious. A trade name is protected and cannot be used by anyone else. A fictitious name is not protected and can be used by anyone. You can do a search at the Secretary of State's website to see if a name if available. You cannot use a name that is registered, whether trade or fictitious, without permission. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.