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Is it legal to display the translated the company type on a website in English if the site itself is English? Also, on a bill?

My specific problem is that in my country (Hungary), the short name for limited liability company is KFC which sounds weird, like I'm part of the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. Can I use it like LLC on my website or everything should be as-is, like S.R.O. or GMBH? (Using the long version isn't an option either, some foreign phrase would scare the customers away.)

  • Hi, welcome to law.SE! Unfortunately, your question is unclear. By "translated company type" do you mean "the company type, translated into English"? What country / jurisdiction is your company registered in? And what language does your website use? Please edit to clarify. – sleske Sep 4 '18 at 7:09
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    @sleske thank you for the hints, I've updated the question. To clarify, the company is Hungarian and yes, displaying the type in English if the site itself is English. – Peter Sep 4 '18 at 7:42
  • The abbreviation for this form of entity is not KFC, which would require a hybrid of a part Hungarian "korlátolt felelősségű" and part English "Company" translation. – ohwilleke Sep 4 '18 at 23:50
  • @ohwilleke see my comment below your answer, it's not Kft. I'm talking about. – Peter Sep 6 '18 at 5:00
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Some people make the Kft. to LLC translation that you suggest and it would probably not be illegal to do so if other text did not imply that it was anything other than a Hungarian entity.

From a practical perspective, the best solution is to spell out the company type in Hungarian, possibly in a footnote.

For example, suppose that your company is called "Magyar Delponeous" (because it is easier to explain by example).

You could say "Magyar Delphoneous*" or "Magyar Delphoneous, Kft.*" in the body text, with a footnote at the bottom of a page that says following an asterisks that: "The company is a Hungarian Kft. (korlátolt felelősségű társaság), a non-stock business form similar to a U.S. limited liability company or a German GmbH".

It would also be proper to say "Magyar Delponeous, a Hungarian limited liability company" in unabbreviated form, because the most common translation of "korlátolt felelősségű társaság" is "limited liability company".

But, I would disfavor using the form "Magyar Delphoneous, LLC" because it could implicitly suggest a non-Hungarian place of entity formation where the abbreviation LLC is used, and avoiding any implication of being misleading is something best to avoid.

KFC is not the common or correct abbreviation for this form of entity.

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  • the "korlátolt felelősségű (egyéni) cég" is not listed anywhere, thats why I translated it to LLC. – Peter Sep 6 '18 at 4:40
  • Ah. The most common translation I've seen for this entity form is "individual company" translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=hu&u=http://… strictly speaking it is probably closer to a corporation sole. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation_sole I have also seen the acronym cfc used for this entity type. I'm still inclined to think that the same general strategy makes sense (i.e. translating with a spelled out name). – ohwilleke Sep 6 '18 at 17:56
  • yes, I'll choose that strategy, thank you! – Peter Sep 7 '18 at 5:06
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Although I don't know about trademark treaties/legislation, the fact that KFC is the Hungarian equivalent of LLC makes it very unlikely that Kentucky Fried Chicken could monopolize the use of its acronym. Otherwise, it would be as if a company with acronym AG could legally prevent thousands of German companies (including multinationals) from appending AG (which stands for Aktiengesellschaft) to their name.

In Mionix, LLC vs. ACS Technology, the court explained that trademark infringement

fall[s] within the purview of the Lanham Act. A claim for violating this section of the Lanham Act will ultimately succeed if the accused party's alleged misuse of another's property created a "likelihood of confusion" for consumers as to the source of the competing products.

(citations omitted).

Thus, the question would be whether appending the company type --which I presume will be prefixed by the name of your company-- in your website and invoices may realistically cause any confusion with a fast-food franchise that might not even be your competitor.

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  • I understand your point but it looks very unprofessional I think, LLC would be much better, I just don't know if I'm allowed to use it or I MUST stick to KFC? – Peter Sep 4 '18 at 14:05
  • @Peter Ok, now I understand the sense of your question (hitherto I thought your concern was about trademark infringement). If before the post is closed I figure out the information you need, I'll be happy to edit my answer. – Iñaki Viggers Sep 4 '18 at 18:57
  • Thank You very much, I'm lookig forward to it, and sorry if my question wasn't clear on first sight! – Peter Sep 4 '18 at 19:20

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