Company Name: Letter Combination May Be Registered

Following §18 HGB, the company's name must be distinct and be able to differentiate the businessperson(s) or business(es) from one another.  A GmbH & Co. KG came up with the idea of using an abbreviation without spelling out the letters. The Federal Court of Justice was petitioned to force the Commercial Registry to permit letter strings without any word characteristics as a trade name and passed its decision on August 12, 2008 (re II ZB 46/07).

The commercial registry denied the entry of that company name because it had no meaning and was only a simple combination of letters.

The company name "HM&A" is the classification of the company that consults in Mergers & Acquisitions" of companies, "M&A" reflects this. The prevailing "H" suffices to individualize the complaining company from others in that business.

Such trade name though only a bunch of letters must be registered in the Commercial Register upon application. The BGH judges arrived at this conclusion in the dispute over the registrability of the legal company name "HM&A". It is solely required that the company name is pronounceable. It is not required that the letter string can be pronounced as a word or makes sense in its own right.


This decision opens the door to skillfully select a letter combination in order to be listed first in search engine results or on the top of business directories. In other words, abc GmbH" will be found much earlier than "XYZ KG".