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Company's Name with Special Characters

May the name of a company contain special characters, and if so, do these have to be clearly pronounced? The Federal Court of Justice decided on this issue on January 25, 2022 (re II ZB 15/21).       

Special characters can be used in company name if pronounceable

The corporation's shareholders applied for registration of the company name with the special characters "//" as a prefix to the company name "// CRASH...". However, the registry refused the registration because it was unclear how these special characters were to be pronounced. The shareholders appealed against this decision.

The appeal was unsuccessful. The BGH ruled in favour of the registry court. The BGH decisively focused on the fact that the company name must be suitable for identifying the company. Therefore, the company name must be pronounceable. When special characters are used, it depends on whether they are used as a substitute for words in common usage. In the opinion of the BGH, however, there is no corresponding word usage for the special characters "//" in general language usage. It is thus unclear how these special characters are to be pronounced. For this reason, these signs are not registrable.      

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