A business can be identified by different names. In any case, it is necessary to ensure of their availability prior to using them. This can be done via a prior art search taking various categories of name in databases into account. The objective is to ensure that the chosen name is not already used by a rival registered company either as a trade name or company name, or as a trademark to label products or services related to the future activity, or even as the address (domain name) of an existing website.
Ensuring that your name is not already used as a company or trade name
You have the possibility to search the data.inpi.fr database of the National institute of industrial property (Institut national de la propriété industrielle (INPI)) for free to ensure that your name is not already used as a company or trade name. This database contains the data from the National registry of trade and companies and from the INSEE's SIRENE database.
Ensuring that your name is not already used as a trademark
You can do this search yourself for free in the trademark database of the INPI's website.
Ensuring that your name is not already used as a domain name
You have the possibility to search the AFNIC's database (French association for cooperative internet naming) to ensure that your name is not already used as a domain name (.fr domain names in particular).
For further information
You may contact the INPI to get assistance in completing these formalities.
It is recommended to carry out in-depth searches to ensure that a name is available by considering all the orthographic, phonetic and intellectual similarities of existing names with yours. You may request the INPI to carry out theses searches for a fee .
You may also purchase a package consisting of a similarity search among trademarks and company names and an identical search among .fr, .eu and generic top-level domain names (.com, .org, etc.).
> Corporate name, trade name and sign (inpi.fr) [FR]
> Services (inpi.fr) [FR]
> Checking whether a domain name is available (afnic.fr)
If you wish to register a trademark in addition to starting your business, you will find all the information on trademark registration on the INPI's website .
If you wish to register a domain name in addition to starting a business, you need to contact a registrar accredited by the AFNIC. This registrar will act as a compulsory intermediary between you and the AFNIC for any request to register a domain name. Find out about domain name registration on the AFNIC's website .