Protecting your company’s name: corporate name, trade name and trade dress

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Protect your creative work by registering copyright

In the context of industrial property, a company can have several names: a corporate name, a trade name and a brand name.

These different names are distinctive signs which, unlike trademarks, do not designate a product or service, but an activity.

After distinguishing between these three concepts, we’ll look at choosing and protecting your company’s name.

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The corporate name identifies the company as a legal entity. This is the name used in the articles of association. It is acquired as soon as the company is registered with the RCS (National Register of Commerce and Companies).

The trade name is the name under which your company’s activity will be known to the public, and which will appear on various commercial documents. It can be the same as your company name. It is used to register the company with the RCS.

The commercial sign designates both the point of sale and the physical support that enables customers to identify it. It can be registered with the RCS.

While the trade name and corporate name are mandatory and unique, this is not the case for the trade sign.

How do you choose a company name?

The principle is that you are free to choose the name of your company. However, company names, trade names and brand names are protected by intellectual property law.

Before registering your company’s name, you need to make sure that the name you have chosen is available by conducting a prior art search. The name you choose must not reproduce or imitate a name already registered for activities identical or similar to yours.

Protecting your company name

Once your company name is available, you become the owner of that name. Company name protection begins as soon as you are registered with the RCS. The protection of a trade name and sign begins with their first public use.

If a competitor uses the same name as you, you can sue for unfair competition or economic parasitism. You will then need to demonstrate the risk of confusion in the minds of customers. To do this, your competitor must operate in the same economic sector as you, as well as in the same geographical area in terms of brand name and trade name. It will then be useful to prove the prior use of your commercial sign. A simple Copyright deposit on Fidéalis has you covered.

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