As an Alias adopted to preserve anonymity, the pseudonym is frequently used in the public sphere for commercial purposes. This can be, for example, the pen name of an author, the identity under which a painter is known, etc.
French law does not provide any legal status for the pseudonym. However, it is recognized as a right of personality. As such, it enjoys an existence and legal protection.
When the pseudonym is intended for public use, the choice requires particular attention. Therefore there are limits established by law which must be respected. Thus, the pseudonym chosen must not violate public order or morality. The existence of prior rights, such as a registered trademark or prior use of the same pseudonym by another individual, is also a limiting factor.
In addition, Article L. 711-4 of the French Intellectual Property Code states that a sign may not be adopted as a trademark if it infringes an earlier right. These earlier rights include the personality rights of another person, particularly his surname, pseudonym or likeness.
The pseudonym may not only constitute an earlier blocking right for a trademark but may also be registered as a trademark. This has two consequences:
- the need to check whether the pseudonym infringes apreviously existing pseudonym used commercially
A pseudonym used in the private sphere raises few problems in practice. The same applies if it is used for a limited period of time. If it is not intended for commercial use, it is not necessary to check the existence of any previous use by a third party.
- the protection of a pseudonym may be increased if it is registered as a trademark
Registering a pseudonym as a trademark provides better protection. This registration also leads to its becoming an intellectual property asset in its own right and therefore increases its value. This provides security for the user of the pseudonym as well as for his business partners. It is then easier to carry out commercial operations using this pseudonym (assignment contracts, licensing, marketing operations, etc.)
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