Company types

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Most of this content is pertinent to, though this page is serving as a consolidated set of defined terms.

Early aero companies have various suffixes to their names associated with legal classifications in different countries and we can define the terms here, their legal meanings, and any de facto observed attributes of the different types:

  • G.m.b.H: German corporation -- “Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung” – “company with limited liability”[1]
  • AG - “Aktiengesellshaft” - “private company”[2] ; (-or-) “Arbeitsgemeinschaft” - “study group”[3] The "work" or "labor" implied by "Arbeit(s)" also further suggests that this "study" is of a specifically professional nature, of course. There may be a formal or an informal analogue to the working groups of Great Britain and the ateliers of France. (We are not always certain on any fluidity in the usage of some of these corporate terms, and we “standardize” whether towards abbreviations or towards full incorporation terminology in reaction to the usage found across our data. The antique sources themselves always look quite proper, each in isolation, but protocols of hyphenation, the mixing of compound nouns, the breaking up thereof, these things seem to have been handled variably, across sources, even among the references to sole particular firms.)
  • PLC (British)
  • “Ltd.” British and American?
  • “Inc.” (American)
  • Société - This is used as “corporation” is used in our contemporary English. The francophone usage of “corporation” has heavier governmental overtones. While the word “société” retains its abstract and more general meanings, it is also used as a catch-all way of designating some organization as a firm. Within antique sources, the use of the word, whether by a governmental or otherwise external compiler of data, for purposes of external classification, or as part of the actual name of the firm itself, isn't always clear. Usage of this mere “Société”, as opposed to “Société anonyme”, may or may not specifically indicate limitations on the intercorporate scope of the firm in question.
  • Société anonyme - This has to do with, among other things possibly, the ability of a firm to trade shares and enter alliances with other domestic or foreign firms.[4] This is key, and it may be that most French firms in our data had this legal status whether or not said designation is explicit anywhere near whichever firm's per se “name”.
  • Établissement(s) - establishment(s) - This is another generally corporate name, though it may have been used more often intrinsically, that is within the name of the firm itself. This is uncertain. Whether as singular or plural it signifies the aggregate of facilities and so forth used or owned in the interests of whichever form or organization.[5]
  • “Cie”(“compagnie”) - This is simply like the English “company”, with “et Cie” often following the name of the founder, for instance.
  • Betéti-Társaság - Einlagen-Unternehmen - Deposit Company - Société de dépôt (“Betéti-Társaság” comes up within our Hungarian patent data[6]). We have little on Hungarian corporate designations, and many hints at frequent corporate affiliation with German firms, in particular.

(Within the francophone phraseology outlined above, many of the terms may be used in combination. Likewise with the German, and even more so, even not always consistent usage of the German language's capacities of noun compounding. Things get more complicated with variable mixing of abbreviation into the process. Hungarian often does likewise, with “Részvénytársaság”, for instance, designating a joint stock company. This linguistic capacity seems to be intrinsic to the Magyar language, perhaps nudged by the influence of German corporations and German corporate culture.)