A company may have different names. These will be trademarks which need to be registered. Before choosing a name, check that it is not already taken (otherwise there will be infringement or unfair competition). Once you have chosen a name, register it!
For legal entities (commercial companies), the corporate name can be likened to an individual’s family name. It enables the business to be identified for legal and social security purposes. Ownership of the name is acquired once the business is registered with the Registre du commerce et des sociétés (Trade and Companies Register, RCS). It is mentioned in the articles of association and in the legal notice announcing the company’s incorporation. It may not be assigned and must not be misleading or infringe third-party rights.
The trade name is the same as the corporate name for non-trading companies. It must include the name of one or more unlimitedly and jointly and severally liable partners.
This business name is the name by which the general public recognises the company. It may be the same as either the corporate or trade name. It appears on commercial documents, business cards, letterhead and in mandatory wording (corporate name, registered office, SIREN number, etc.) Ownership of the name is acquired when it is first used personally and in public. It may be assigned.
For sole proprietorships (individuals), it is the family name.
The commercial name is the visible element enabling a business to be both identified and located (it may have several establishments with different addresses). It may also appear on a sign affixed to the business’s façade, be mentioned on the RCS and assigned.
A trademark is the name a business gives to a product or service. It may be assigned.
The Internet domain name is the address for logging on to the company’s website. Domain names are obtained from a bureau d’enregistrement (registrar) that acts as a liaison point between the company and the Association française pour le nommage Internet en coopération (French Network Information Centre, AFNIC). The latter keeps a register of .fr domain names.
A bureau d’enregistrement is a company (Internet Service Provider, web host, etc.) that is accredited by, and has executed an agreement with, AFNIC.