Doing business with middle names

In more name legislature news, I hear from a friend who goes by his middle name (let's pretend his name is John William Smith, usually known as William) that he cannot legally go into business using just his middle name.  His words:

"As my first name is John, Florida says I have to either do business as John [or] register 'William Smith' as a fictitious name simply because William is my (legal, mind you) middle name and not my legal first name. It essentially amounts to me paying $50 for the privilege to conduct business as William."

He is avoiding the fee by printing his full name on his business cards and preparing for conversations about why he goes by his middle name.

Have others heard of this?  Is it common in the States?  It seems a bit unfair, given that going by a middle name is not wildly unusual, although it's probably minor compared with some of the other legal issues that have been discussed here.

Replies

1
February 18, 2013 1:22 AM

How odd...

I know that my mother's cousin, a lawyer in Florida, conducts all his business as (to use your example) "J. William Smith". Now, I don't know if the laws have changed since he went into business several decades ago but I'm quite sure that he's never registered this "fictitious" name.

2
February 18, 2013 7:46 AM

Interesting...maybe it's ok as long as the first initial is there.

3
February 19, 2013 4:31 PM

There are lots of places that require you to register a "DBA" name if you aren't using your legal first & last as your business name.  "DBA" means "Doing Business As", and it can be something like

John William Smith, dba "William Smith" or Robert Jones, dba "The Kitty Wrangler" -- that is, a DBA name doesn't have to be a person-type of name -- just a name you want associated with you professionally, but not as expensive/difficult to set up as doing an LLC. 

4
February 25, 2013 8:41 PM

Yep--my hubby goes by J. Gryph0n Sh@f--

In our state, you only have to declare a DBA to the state, who doesn't care as long as you have it on file along with your social security # for their records.