Will you have any problems when registering a non-governmental organization with a famous name in the title?

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A famous name in the title of a company or non-governmental organization will attract 100% attention.

We often dealt with the desire of our Clients to name their NGO in honor of a famous public figure.

Some believed that person to have devoted his/her whole life to a good cause or simply succeeded in his/her field, and, therefore, is a great example to follow. And some just wanted to use a famous name to add gravitas to their organization. In any case, the question arose: how to do it right?

Legislation protects the use of the name. Someone else's name must not be used in the names of legal entities without permission granted. What to do if you really want to?

What is needed to register an organization, using a well-known name in the title?

In order to legally use someone’s name in the title of an organization, you need to obtain notarized consent from this person.

To use the name of a foreigner or a person located abroad, the consent must also be apostilled or legalized. The certification rules depend on the host country: if there are agreements with Ukraine on the mutual recognition of documents, neither legalization or apostille is required.

To use the name of a person, who is one of the founders of the organization, notarization is not necessary. It is enough for this person to give his consent at the constituent assembly and that this should be reflected in the minutes.

To use the name of  a deceased person, you need, duly executed, consent from his/her heirs. If they are not in the territory of Ukraine or the person died a long time ago and we are talking about grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the situation is much more complicated.

Our service: Registration of a public organization

What should I do if a famous person or his/her heirs do not provide their consent for the use the name?

If such a person or his/her heirs deny you to use the name, you will not have the right to use it.

In practice, there are cases of circumvention of this restriction. For example, by introducing into the board of founding members or obtaining permission to use the name on behalf of the person with the identical desired last/first name. However, this option entails legal risks if, in the future, the NGO  or legal entity refers to the activities of a well-known namesake person in any way.

To search for the option of using the last name in the title of the organization, if no consent to use has been granted, you cannot avoid seeking professional help. This is the only way to find a nontypical option to achieve the goal.

What if you do not want someone else to use the same name?

Legislation does not allow the existence of identical names. But the names are not considered identical if they differ in at least one symbol. For example, a period, a hyphen, or even a single letter.

Many consider the registration of a trademark a remedy. But this does not insure you, and here's why:

a tradename or trademark is used to conduct business, and most NGO’s  are non-profitable. 

a trademark is registered for specific catogories of goods or services. That is, if you register a trademark in the category 42 “Scientific and technological services and research ...”, it will not hurt anyone to register the same one, but in a different category.

So how do you protect the name of your organization from the occurrence of similar names?

Unfortunately, there is no absolute legal guarantee against the occurrence of such names. But you can take certain precautions:

  • agree with the holder of a well-known name or his/her heir on non-provision of consent to let other people use the name.
  • register a trademark in many categories of goods and services. This procedure can be expensive, but it will give guarantees.

Related article: Registration of trademark ownership

Therefore, before making any decision, you should consider:

  • How important is the uniqueness of the name?
  • what will it give you?
  • What time and financial expenses will you incur?

Perhaps, upon consideration, you will come to the conclusion that to protect public interests the name of the organization is not so important. But if the issue of naming turns out to be fundamental, it is better to get legal support immediately


Publication date: 02/07/2019
Marina Losenko

About author

Name: Marina Losenko

Position: Associate

Education: National Aviation University

Knowledge of languages: Russian, Ukrainian

Email: [email protected]

Marina Losenko is a lawyer of the company, specializing in corporate law and intellectual property law.

Marina has extensive experience of registration and dissolution of enterprises, charities and non-governmental organizations, representative offices of foreign companies as well as formalization of changes to registration information of the entities.

For quite a long time she has been working in the field of licensing and obtained licenses for different types of business activities including sale of medicines (license for activities of drugstores); wholesale of pesticides and agrochemicals; activities with scrap; activities with hazardous wastes; operations with scrap of precious metals and gemstones; private security services; transportation; tour services; use of redio frequency resource; IPTV services, etc.

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