How to check the distinctive character of the (company) name
- You can check the company name in the Company Registration Portal when filling out the part about the company name with the help of the name inquiry on the RIK website
- The name inquiry of the e-Business Register enables you to look for the same or similar (company) names and trademarks;
- Whether the new name is clearly distinguishable and conforms with the law shall be decided by the court maintaining the register after the entry petition has been filed, not the Centre of Registers and Information Systems;
- The law does not provide separate rules for clear distinction. In some cases, one letter may be sufficient for distinguishing (Pill and Lill); in other cases, three different letters may not be enough (Fotoluks and Photolux). In order to achieve the right result, please consider the following:
- the inquiry is not case-sensitive;
- search for the word in both the singular and plural (Lill and Lilled; Kaitseingel and Kaitseinglid) and in both the nominative and genitive cases (Lille and Lillede);
- search for words written together or apart as well as according to parts of words (Pajulill and Paju Lill; Transservis and Trans Servis; Nordline and Nord Line);
- search for words that are written in a different way but sound similar (Fotoluks and Photolux; Avenue and Avenüü; Service and Servis).
- If the name in question includes a trademark, you must turn to the website of the Patent Office www.epa.ee in order to identify the domain in which the trademark is protected;
- be careful when checking the name; the result depends on your experience and patience.
What is the requirement for a distinctive character of the (company) name?
- The name of a company must be clearly distinguishable from other company names entered in the e-Business Register;
- the name of aself-employed person must be clearly distinguishablefrom the company names entered in the e-BusinessRegister of the same county court area;
- a self-employed person may have several company names if he or she has several companies registered in the Commercial Register;
- the name of a non-profit company and a foundation must be clearly distinguishable from other names of non-profit companies and foundations entered in the register.
What is the connection between a company name and a trademark?
- A company name may not include a trademark of another person protected in Estonia or Europe without the permission of the owner of the trademark, authenticated by a notary or signed digitally;
- this permission is not necessary if the undertaking operates in an area of activity where the trademark is not protected (the undertaking operates in construction or the trademark is protected in the class of catering services);
- at the same time, the choice of company name is not affected by the non-protected parts of the trademark (for example, general definitions).
- Check the trademarks
Which other risks do I have to take into account in connection with trademarks?
- A trademark will gain legal protection retroactively, from the time of submitting the petition. If entering the company name in the e-Business Register falls between the submission and registration of another person’s trademark, the owner of the trademark may later require that you change your company name. The petitions for a trademark being processed can be found on the website of the Patent Office www.epa.ee;
- the court maintaining the e-Business Register compares the new company names with the trademarks registered in Estonia. However, trademarks of the European Union also have legal protection in Estonia. In the event of a possible dispute, what matters is which petition came first (the entering of the company name in the e-Business Register or the submission of the petition for a trademark). The link to the database of the trademarks of the European Union can be found on the website of the Patent Office www.epa.ee;
- the legal protection of a trademark may also arise from the fact that it is well-known and does not need to be registered. Such legal protection must be proven by the court separately.