Company names and logos

Company names and logos

In addition to being able to register a trademark to protect a product or service, it is also possible to obtain protection for the company name itself. This can be done through the use of a company symbol.

The legal provisions are contained in § 5 sub-paragraph 2 of the German Trademark Act. In accordance with this paragraph:

“Company symbols are signs used in the course of trade as a name, company name or special designation of a business operation or an enterprise. Business symbols and other signs intended to distinguish the business operation from other business operations which are regarded as symbols of the business operation within involved trade circles shall be deemed equivalent to the special designation of a business operation.”

Under a business name, the following can be protected:

  • Names of individuals (including any pseudonyms)
  • Business names
  • Partnership names
  • Names of associations

In addition to a business name, the following elements can be protected as “business operations”:

  • Logos
  • Advertising slogans
  • Employee uniforms

To obtain protection company names and symbols must be distinguishable. This requirement is not fulfilled where a simple description of a product is used. For example, the description of “flower shop” would be insufficient to gain protection as it a generic description for a shop which sells flowers.

In contrast to the registration of a trademark, company names or business operations are not protected via entry in a register but through general usage in trade. Furthermore, where a business conducts local or regional operations, the protection obtained will be limited to that geographical area. In contrast, if a company extends its operations, the protection is also extended.

This protection will cease where a company changes its operations or stops using the symbol. Protection is also lost where a symbol loses its distinguishing features.

A case-by-case analysis is required in order to assess how protection can best be achieved. If you need help in deciding where your case lies, the expert team at WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE is available to help.
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Would you like to register a trademark? Do you have general questions about trademark law? We are here to help.

German lawyer Kilian Kost and the expert team at WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE are available to answer your questions. Call us on +49 (0) 221 / 951 563 0.
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Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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