Can the company name of another entrepreneur be used?
The name of the company is extremely important when running a business. Its appropriate selection is, among others, making the goods sold or services rendered more recognizable by customers. As you know, it is a factor that individualizes each entrepreneur.
It would be worth considering to what extent and under what conditions a company name belonging to another economic entity can be used.
From the wording of Art. 432 § 1 of the Act of 23 April 1964 - Civil Code (hereinafter: the Civil Code), it results that the entrepreneur operates under the name of. As a rule, the company of a natural person is their first and last name. It is permissible to include in its name also a pseudonym or terms that indicate, inter alia, on the object, place of business and other terms freely chosen.
In addition, the name of the company should be sufficiently different from companies that are run by other entrepreneurs in the course of trade. The company may not be misleading, in particular as to the person of the entrepreneur, the subject of the entrepreneur's activity, place of business, sources of supply.
It should be borne in mind that the use of someone else's name in the entrepreneur's company may constitute an infringement of personal rights (Articles 23, 24 of the Civil Code). However, an exception to this rule is the use of well-known historical names.
This was also decided in the judgment of the Supreme Court of December 12, 1997, file ref. no. III RN 74/97; OSNAPiUS 1998 No. 14 item 413, where it was stated that such surnames could be registered as trademarks.
Therefore, by analogy, it should be considered that it is also permissible to register them as companies or names of entrepreneurs.
The exception to this is the use of the name of Fryderyk Chopin, which is protected as a personal interest under the Act of 3 February 2011 on the protection of Fryderyk Chopin's heritage (Journal of Laws of 2001, No. 16, item 168).
Using someone else's company
Pursuant to Art. 439 § 1 and 2 of the Civil Code the company cannot be sold. However, the entrepreneur may authorize another to use his company, provided that such a situation does not result in misrepresentation.
Authorization to use your company may be in a unilateral legal act or through an agreement. Most often, this type of cooperation is established on the basis of a franchise or lease agreement. It should be borne in mind that this type of cooperation should not be misleading.
Pursuant to Art. 5 of the Act of April 16, 1993 on combating unfair competition (Journal of Laws No. 153, item 1503, as amended), an act of unfair competition should be understood as such a designation of an enterprise that may mislead customers as to its identity, by using a company name, emblem, abbreviation or other distinctive symbol previously legally used to designate another company.
Legal successors in business
In a situation where the economic activity of a natural person is continued by a legal successor who is also a natural person, it is permissible to keep the name of the predecessor in the company only with his consent in writing, and in the event of his death - with the consent of his spouse and children.
We deal with legal aftermath in a situation where contracts are concluded, e.g. sales or donations, as well as actions in the event of death, e.g. inheritance.
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The legal successor of an individual entrepreneur may not conduct further economic activity under the name of his predecessor. It is necessary to endorse with your name. However, it is permissible to include the surname of the predecessor as an additional part to his name and surname.