All fictitious name certificates for businesses (commonly known as "doing business as" or "DBA" certificates) are filed with the Town Clerk. Massachusetts requires anyone who is conducting business under an alias (i.e., any name other than his or her own), including corporations, to file a business certificate in the community where their business is principally headquartered.
This form, also called a DBA, contains the name and address of the business and the names and residences of the principals of the business.
The certificate will not be valid until signed by all owners in the presence of a notary or the Town Clerk. You may sign in person at the Town Clerk’s office or alternatively you may have the certificate notarized privately. It is important that the Clerk’s Office receive a copy of the certified business certificate if the business certificate is not certified by the Town Clerk.
The certificate is effective for 4 years and the filing fee is $40.00. Certified copies cost $10.00 each and filing a change or discontinuance costs $20.00.
Issuance of this certificate does not authorize the applicant to conduct business in an area which is not properly zoned. Depending on the type of business additional permits or licenses from Inspection Services or the Board of Health may be required.
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Trademark and Service Mark Issues
Business certificates allow consumers to identify and locate the proprietor of a business. The filing of a DBA certificate also serves as notice that the filer claims the exclusive use of the name contained in the certificate.
Filing a business certificate at the local level, however, does not protect your name. If you have a business name or a symbol that you consider unique and valuable you may want to register it as a trademark or a service mark.
Trademarks are any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination for the goods of others. Similarly, there are service marks that may be used to identify and distinguish a business that provides a service rather than goods.
You are not required to register your trademark or service mark with any governmental agency. Trademarks are protected under common law. However, by registering your mark, you may gain certain exclusive ownership benefits under statutory law.
For more information, visit the Trademarks and Service Marks website of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Corporation Division.