My fictitious name

I started a business and decided it was time to make it official. That means registering a Fictitious Business Name (FBN).[1] I don’t have to register another name if I just use my own name: Ericson Community Consulting or such. But I decided a few years ago to call my potential consulting business “Civitas”, which is Latin for “community” .

By the way, I tend to pronounce the “C” with an “S” sound and the “v” as a “v” based on the rules of English spelling. But in classical Latin, it would have been pronounced with a hard “C” and the “v” would be a “u”. When I hear that pronunciation, it sounds to my ear like “kiwi toss”. I’m going to say that’s the small fuzzy fruit, not the tiny birds from New Zealand. Definitely not a citizen of New Zealand!

One reason for filing, maybe the only reason, is to be able to open a bank account with the Civitas name. Now that I’ve filed, anyone can use LA County’s website to verify that I am the owner of a business that I call “Civitas”.[2] That way I can cash checks and accept transfers bound for my business, which is handy. If I’d used my last name (and I was the sole owner) it would be clear that I own the business, but since the name is totally made up, I need to register it.

This is one of the few sensible applications of blockchain technology, at least in theory. The idea would be that my data would be associated with the Civitas name and that pair could be recorded in a public ledger that would make it nearly impossible for someone to change. Maybe something like:

$echo 'Civitas = Jon Ericson' | sha512sum
4d3857f09d494388d036aa788edee8d58e3a4abd7a72b7deee157fd0d75b76807701cebaed5fa519ad963b4824107bb46148211bdb8d43a4d478998a012fc698  - 

So if my arch-nemesis, John Erikson, tried to steal my company name, he’d break the cryptographic hash:

$ echo 'Civitas = John Erikson' | sha512sum
6e099995272c5476825f7ed001dd160e35cdfaabc8c9fd9dbc0e868d7e603031270a7aa6707c684dc9afc538f25c6c6a63874c6c5c7f5aa02ea357a9d3bd84ea  -

Sorry, Mr. Erikson. You aren’t me.

One sorta odd thing about the process is that I need to “publish a statement in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for four consecutive weeks in the county which the principal place of business is located.” I think the idea is that people can read about my business name and register a complaint. The fee if I want to publish in the LA Times is “$575 Sundays, $491 Non-Sundays”. That’s quite a lot. Thankfully I can also shop around.

After expanding all the options, I discovered the lowest price: $29 for publishing in The Canyon News:

All options below include 4 weeks of publication plus the affidavit required by the courts, Proof of Publication. Extra names incur a fee which you will see upon check out. We guarantee we have the lowest rates in the County of Los Angeles or we beat the price by $1.

Sure enough, the next lowest price was $30. Shortly after I emailed the site, I got a call from them that went straight to voicemail. A few minutes later, I got an email asking if they could help me complete my order. Once I’d paid, they sent a few more emails asking to verify the details I’d submitted so that the publication would match. They also referred me to a bank representative to open a business account. I’m pretty sure their revenue model is to undercut prices on the pointless publishing service and make up for it by selling my information. Such is life, I suppose.

  1. This is also called a “Trade Name” or “Doing Business As” (DBA)”. Whatever you call it, the concept is the same. ↩︎

  2. If you want to test that, use the verification number 3000055188. ↩︎