Naming the Partnership
In addition to marketing and advertising considerations, there are a few legal issues to consider in choosing a name for your partnership.
Conducting Business and Title to Property
To identify your business, you will either use the names of the partners (e.g., Smith, Jones and Johnson), or a business name (e.g., Tri-County Furniture). In the past, the business of the partnership had to be conducted in the names of all of the partners. Title to any property was held by the partners in their names. Today, however, under the partnership laws of all fifty states and the District of Columbia, a business name may be used and title to property may be held in the name of the business.
Fictitious Business Name Registration
In most locations, if you use a business name other than the names of the partners, it will need to be registered with a local or state agency. This is commonly referred to as a fictitious or assumed name. The purpose of this type of registration is to allow those with whom your partnership does business to know who the partners are. Generally, this does not protect your business name. You may find there is someone else in your area using the same name for his or her business.
Some states also allow, or require, a limited partnership to register with a state agency, in much the same manner as a corporation. Depending upon state law, this may or may not offer protection against others using the name.
Note: If you want to be sure to protect your business name, you should consider state or federal trademark registration.