Protect your company name:
legal and trade name and commercial sign
In the context of industrial property, a company may go by several names: a legal name or a trade name and a commercial sign.
These different names are distinctive signs that, unlike a trademark, do not designate a product or service, but an activity.
After distinguishing between these three concepts, we will look at how to choose a company's name and how to protect it.
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The legal name identifies the company as a legal entity. This is the name that is used in the statutes and is acquired as soon as a company is registered in France in the RCS (Trade and Companies Register).
The trade name is the name by which the company's activity will be known to the public and can be found on trade documents. It may be the same as the company name. It is the one used to register the company in the RCS.
The commercial sign refers both to the point of sale and to the physical medium that allows customers to identify it. It can be mentioned in the RCS.
While trade and legal names are mandatory and unique, this is not the case for the commercial sign.
How to choose the name of a company?
In principle, the choice of the name of a company should be easy. However, the legal name, trade name and commercial sign are protected by intellectual property law.
Before registering a company name, it is necessary to ensure that the name chosen is available, by conducting a search of previous registrations. The name chosen must not reproduce or imitate a name already registered for identical or similar activities.
Protecting your company's name
If a company name is available, you then become the owner of that name. The protection of the legal name is conferred as soon as it is registered with the RCS. The protection of the trade name and commercial sign starts with their first public use.
If a competitor uses the same name, they can be sued on the grounds of unfair competition or parasitism. Then it must be demonstrated how it can be misleading for customers. To do this, the competitor must operate in the same economic sector and in the same geographical area with regard to the commercial sign and trade name. It would be very useful to be able to prove the prior use of a commercial sign. A simple Copyright registration with Fidéalis covers that.