Thinking back to Business Organizations class (because calling it “Corporations” doesn’t go far enough), one of the most important lessons I picked up was the importance of properly naming defendants in a lawsuit.* Just as you wouldn’t call a defendant Daniel when her name is Danielle, don’t call it the XYZ Corporation if it’s really XYZ LLC. When you boil it all down, that’s the entire point of BusOrg class– parsing the differences between the various alphabet soup combinations that make up the American business landscape.**
But broaden that to the world beyond our borders, and you’ve got problems if you don’t have a handle on the soup. Fortunately, you’re not completely on your own. Thanks to Jimmy Wales‘ favorite product, it’s pretty easy to look up.
While I would never advise anybody to cite Wikipedia as an authority– legal, academic, or otherwise– the value of the platform as a research tool is hard to overstate. There’s a great Wiki on types of entities around the world, broken out by country. My favorite of all time is the Aktiengesellschaft (AG), a German corporation. Close second: Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH), a German LLC.
Say either of those ten times fast. G’head… it’s fun.
Of course, you’ll have to observe the Hague Service Convention as you’re haling these outfits into court, but once you’ve named the defendants in the caption, use the Wiki to describe the defendant in the “Parties” section of the complaint:
- Volkswagen AG is a German corporation.
- Robert Bosch GmbH is a German limited liability company.
- Airbus SE is a corporation organized under the laws of the European Union and headquartered in Toulouse, France.
- Airbus Helicopters SAS is a French closely held corporation and a subsidiary of Airbus SE.
- Angela Merkel is the German Chancellor and the subject of a hit Broadway musical. (Okay, she’s a natural person, which is not defined in the Wiki.)
Just as you mustn’t confuse Inc. or Corp. with LLC, you mustn’t confuse AG with GmbH, or SA with SàRL… you get the picture.
And on the subject of pictures, cruise over to RedKid.net’s soup meme generator and make your own message in noodle lettering. Just keep it clean, m’kay?
* Yet another hat tip to my BusOrg professor, Tony Luppino.
** In an exceedingly ironic twist, two hours after writing the initial draft of this post, FedEx Freight showed up at my door. “Is this Viking?” the guy asked. Yeah, says I, as he tells me he has a single skid to offload (You mean a pallet?! OF WHAT?). Turns out, it was a pallet of valves bound for Viking Group, Inc. (twelve miles away) instead of Viking Advocates, LLC. Poor guy was given the wrong address on the manifest because somebody didn’t take BusOrg.