Can you freely choose the name of an association?

Verified 26 April 2021 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

The founders of an association may freely choose its name. However, it must not use a protected name, a name that is the subject of an exclusive right or which may create confusion with the name of an already existing person (private or public).

In principle, the choice of the name of an association is free.

However, it should be checked that the intended name for the association is not already in use.

The name you choose must not exceed 250 characters to be published to JOAFE: titleContent.

It can be followed by an acronym (for example: Animal Protection business (PPS). However, the use of an acronym alone is not recommended.

You can use the following labels:

  • Combination
  • Friendly
  • Club
  • League
  • Circle
  • Movement
  • Union
  • Business

When several associations come together, they can be called union, federation, confederation or else group (for example, the national confederation of radio associations).

This allows you to use names that refer to the activity of the association (sports association of ..., cultural association of ...). You can also use names that refer to the name of a natural person (for example: Jean Monnet Association) or pure fantasy names.

An association cannot choose a protected name as its name. Thus, you cannot use:

  • A trademark registered with the National Institute of Industrial Property (Inpi)
  • A designation of origin (i.e. the name of a country, region or locality used to designate a product originating in it), such as Laguiole
  • The last name of an individual without their consent (unless it is yours)
  • A term corresponding to a qualification or title the use of which is restricted to certain natural persons, or moral such as, for example, the designations foundation, company foundation or mutual

If you wish protect the name of your association, you must contact theInpi: titleContent.

An association cannot choose a name already taken by another association or another legal person, provided that it is an original name.

The original character of a name is assessed by the judicial judge.

The name chosen by an association must not be confused with the name of another natural person or morality (private or public), including through the use of similar words.

To meet this obligation, it is useful to check that the names envisaged are not already used.