The corporate name of a company: definition (2023)

The name of a company is itsnom. It must make it possible to identify it and therefore must appear in the statutes. Such a denomination is established during theCompany creation.

A commercial company must be designated by a corporate name in its articles of association. This name is protected and can be modified if necessary.

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What is a business name?

The name of a company is itsofficial name.It must therefore be determined and protected.

Identification of the company by its name

The company is a legal person, and like natural persons, it is necessary to give it a name. This name is chosen when the company is created, when the articles of association are drafted.

The name of the company allows thedistinguishother companies, partners and shareholders.

It also allows to maketo knowwith customers, the general public and the administration.

The companies concerned by the choice of a name

The choice of a corporate name is mandatory for professional civil companies (SCP) and commercial companies: SA,SAS,SARL, etc.

Conversely, civil companies other than professional civil companies such as SCIs are not subject to the determination of such a name. Indeed, the latter have asocial reason.

The auto-entrepreneur is not required to find a name since he operates under his own name.

Good to know: the denomination and the company name are very similar terms but for all that they are different in that they do not concern the same companies. The company name concerns companies with a civil activity while the name designates those which carry out a commercial or professional activity.

How to determine the name of a company?

In principle, the founder(s) is free tochoose the nameof his society. In order to validly choose this name, he must follow the steps below.

Step 1: Come up with a business name idea

The first step is tofind an ideaname for the company.

The corporate name can be:

  • A term relating to the activities carried out by the company;
  • A name or pseudonym;
  • Signs that distinguish the company, etc.

Attention: It is however forbidden to use a protected name, an existing name, the patronymic name of a third party (or its known pseudonym), or even a name that would contravene public order or morality, etc.

Alongside the choice of a corporate name, and depending on the needs of the activity carried out, it is possible to define ataughtand onenom commercial, as well as a brand.

Step 2: Check denomination availability

Before proceeding with the registration of the corporate name, it is necessary to ensure the availability of the name. In other words, make sure the name is not already in use.

To this end,researchesfollowing are to be done:

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  • Prior art searches on theINPI website:ensures that the name of the company is not identical to a registered trademark;
  • Do research withinfographic: to check that the chosen name is not already taken by another company;
  • Carry out an availability search on theAFNIC: to ensure that the company name is not registered as a domain name for a website.

🔎 Zoom: Registration and the choice of a name are major steps in the creation of a company. Indeed, these condition its legal birth. This is why LegalPlace offers you tostart your business onlineand carry out all the necessary formalities. All you have to do is complete an online questionnaire and our team of formalists will take care of the steps for you.

Step 3: Register the chosen corporate name

When the availability of the company name is verified, it must beregistration. It takes place during theregistration procedureof the society.

The chosen name must be entered in:

  • The statutes of the company;
  • The notice of incorporation of the company;
  • TheM0 form.

Once the business creation file has been filed with the Trade and Companies Register, registration will be done at the same time as theregistration.

Thus, the corporate name is mentioned before thelegal statuscompany and the amount of share capital, as follows:

“Corporate name –SARL– Share capital of … € ».

Good to know: There is a requirement of individualization which implies that the name has a distinctive character (it must not be common or professional language, be simply descriptive, etc.)

Here is a summary diagram of the steps to follow to choose a corporate name.
The corporate name of a company: definition (1)

How to protect the name of a company?

Once the company is registered with the RCS or the RM, depending on the nature of its activity, its name becomes official. The company is then the owner of this denomination.

This is why it is essential toprotect. As such, the entrepreneur can apply for a trademark registration with the INPI.

The cost of trademark registration depends essentially on the number of classes selected. For a single class the price is190€.For each class of products, or additional services, it is necessary to count40€in addition.

Attention :this filing opens up protection for the brand and the products for only 10 years.

Following this deposit, the entrepreneur will have aproperty rightson the brand, and more precisely on all the products and services concerned.

This right gives it the ability to act for infringement or unfair competition if companies use its name.

To note: the protection of the company name of a sole proprietorship is automatic on national territory from registration.

How to change the legal name of a company?

The entrepreneur can, if he wishes, carry out thechange of corporate nameof the society.

Indeed, since this often corresponds to the name of the legal person when it is created, it is notnot final.

On the other hand, it should be noted that this entails a procedure ofmodification of the articles of association of the company.

Therefore, this change requires obtaining the agreement of the shareholders gathered in EGM to modify the initial statutes. A publication in a newspaper of legal announcements must also be made.

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How to distinguish the corporate name from the commercial name, sign, brand, etc.?

The corporate name is often confused with concepts that are close to it. It must be distinguished from the company name, thenom commercial,of the commercial sign, the domain name or the brand.

All these concepts are alsodistinctive signsfrom a company.

Company name and company name

Thesocial reasonand corporate name both refer to the name of the corporation. In fact, they allowidentify the company.

However, they are not used for the same type of company. The corporate name applies to partnerships exercising acivil activity(this is the case forSCI). It often includes the name of the partner(s).

The corporate name, on the other hand, applies tocommercial companiesand professional civil companies often used by the liberal professions (lawyers, doctors, etc.).

Company name and trade name

The trade name is used to designate the business where the activity is carried out. The trade name is useful for identifying the company in its dealings with its customers and suppliers.

The choice of a trade name isoptional.

The distinction with the commercial sign

In accordance witharticle L581-3of the environment code, the sign is an inscription, a shape or an image affixedon a building.It relates to the activity carried out there.

As a result, thanks to the commercial sign, it is easy to geographically locate the establishment of a company.

Again, having a commercial sign is completely optional. Where appropriate, the sign may be the same as the name of the company.

The distinction with the domain name

The domain name is the name registered in the address of thesite internet, which makes it easy to find on a search engine.

Thus, the domain name and the company name can be identical.

The difference between the corporate name and the brand

A brand refers to the products issued by a company while the denomination is the name of this company.

To note:If the company wants to own a trademark, it must be filed with the INPI.

For example, a company with the name “Y” can sell, offer products under the “Z” brand depending on the nature of the activity carried out by the latter.

At this time, the mark will bevisible on said products.

Summary table of the different concepts

DefinitionWhere to find them?
Company nameName of a trading companyIn the statutes
Social reasonMode of designation of civil companiesAlso in the statutes
Nom commercialBusiness nameOn contracts, invoices, business cards, etc.
Commercial signName of the business premisesOn the front of the room
Domain nameName listed in website addressIn the website address
MarqueDistinctive sign of a company's productsOn the services and/or products offered


Where is the company name mentioned?

It is found in the articles of association, the M0 form or the notice published in the journal of legal notices.

What is the difference between company name and company name?

The denomination and the corporate name both designate the name of the company, and must be mentioned in the articles of association. However, the term denomination is attributed to commercial companies and corporate name to civil companies.

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How do I know if a corporate name already exists?

In order to determine whether the company name is available, it is possible to consult the database of the National Institute of Industrial Property free of charge.

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Samuel Goldstein

The corporate name of a company: definition (3)

Samuel is co-founder of LegalPlace and responsible for editorial content. The ambition is to make legal know-how accessible to as many people as possible thanks to simple and quality content. Samuel is a graduate of Supelec and HEC Paris

Last updated on 06/22/2022



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The corporate name of a company: definition (5)


July 11, 2022 8:08 am


Can I file as a trademark with the INPI, a name that already exists as the corporate name of a company registered with the RCS but which has not been filed with the INPI? ?

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