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in bourgeois civil and commercial law, the name under which a concern does business. Trade names were originally used by individual merchants and unlimited companies. During the period of monopoly and state-monopoly capitalism, they have been used mainly by joint-stock companies and other types of business associations. The legal status of trade names is set forth in commercial codes (Federal Republic of Germany, Japan), in commercial law (Great Britain, USA), and in laws on, for example, sales, liens, and unfair competition. A number of rules on the use, transfer, and protection of trade names have arisen from judicial and administrative practice.
Certain countries (France, Switzerland, Federal Republic of Germany) require that the trade name correspond to the businessman’s real name. In the case of unlimited companies, the trade name includes either the family names of all the members or the name of one member together with an indication that an unlimited company exists, for example, Durand and Company. In practice, this principle is operative only in the creation of new enterprises. Anglo-American and Japanese law places no restrictions on the choice of trade name, but certain rules must be followed. For example, the trade name must indicate the type of business association.
The trade name must be registered in the commercial register or recorded in some other way established by law. The name appears on the concern’s signs, forms, financial documents, and stationery. The right to use the trade name is exclusive. A trade name cannot be transferred, and it cannot be the subject of a lien separately from the enterprise. Infringements of trade name rights include the unauthorized use of the trade name, the use of a similar name or logotype, and the arrangement of, for example, letters and print in such a way as to suggest a trade name belonging to another. These rights are usually defended through civil actions; the court enjoins the violator from using the trade name and orders that the violator pay damages. The illegal use of a trade name can also be prosecuted administratively (Federal Republic of Germany) through the imposition of a fine by the judge who registers trade names. In some instances, the infringement of trade name rights is a criminal offense (France, Federal Republic of Germany).
In accordance with the 1883 Paris convention on the protection of industrial property, the use of another’s trade name constitutes unfair competition. Trade names are protected in all countries that are signatories to the convention.
In socialist countries [in the USSR, prior to the issuance in 1974 of the Statute on the Production Association (Combine)], trade names denote production associations headed by a principal enterprise. These trade names should not be confused with the firm names of economic organizations that are legal entities.