What is a fictitious name?
A fictitious name is an assumed name, other than the legal name, that an enterprise uses to conduct business in Pennsylvania.
In a sole proprietorship, the surname of the sole proprietor standing alone, or coupled with words that describe the business, is not a fictitious business name. In a general partnership, the surname of all general partners standing alone, or coupled with words that describe the business is not a fictitious business name.
Registration of a fictitious name does not provide the business entity with exclusive rights to the use of the name. There are no ownership rights to a fictitious name and the name is not protected against use by anyone else. The same fictitious name can be used repetitively by different business entities.
The penalty for failing to register a fictitious name is that the unregistered entity may not use the courts of Pennsylvania to enforce a contract entered into using the fictitious name. The failure to register the fictitious name does not void the contract, but merely prevents such enforcement until registration. The court has the option of imposing a $500 penalty, payable to the Pennsylvania Department of State, in these instances where the entity seeks to enforce the contract and subsequently registers the fictitious name in an untimely manner.