How to choose a suitable business name for a company?

04.07.2019 | Corporate, Intellectual Property

The business name of a company is the name registered in the commercial register under which the company operates. A company can have only one business name and it must be clearly distinguishable from other business names registered in Estonia. In addition, the business name is subject to the following requirements and restrictions.

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What are the business name requirements and restrictions?

In addition to the above, Estonia has the following restrictions on the choice of business name:

  • the business name must be written in Estonian-Latin alphabet
  • the business name must have a reference to the form of business at the beginning or end (for example, "OÜ" or "osaühing")
  • the business name must not be contrary to good morals or be misleading as to the legal form, the business or the scope of the business of the company
  • a business name may not use in Estonia a word, letter or numeric mark protected by a trademark or a combination thereof without the notarial consent of the trademark owner, unless the undertaking is engaged in activities for which the trademark is not protected. At the same time, European Community trademarks also have legal protection in Estonia.
  • names of state or local government bodies and agencies may not be used in the business name.
  • the words "state" or "city" or "rural municipality" or other words referring to the participation of a state or local government may be used in the business name of a company only if the state or local government owns more than half of the company's shares
  • the business name and field of activity of the company must not be in conflict.
  • In addition to the above, the Commercial Code has some specifics and restrictions on specific forms of entrepreneur (such as self-employment, general partnership and limited partnership).

What does the distinctiveness of a business name mean?

The requirement for a business name to be clearly distinguishable is not defined by a specific set of characters, which must be different. In some cases, the difference between one letter and another is not enough. Not only the spelling, but also the pronunciation must be distinguishable. The difference, however, does not take into account the difference between inflected, spoken, and other grammatical endings.

In order to find a suitable business name, it is advisable to choose a name that is not too short and to reflect the principal activity of the company (for example, goods produced, services), the location of the company or the shareholders / founders.

How do I check the suitability of a business name?

The suitability of the business name can be checked before making a choice. The easiest and fastest way to check the suitability of a business name is to look up the name in the business register's website, where the search results compare the new name with the names entered in the register.

The response to a name request states:

  • similar or similar names already in the commercial register
  • similar or similar names currently pending; and
  • Trademarks contained in the name (registered in Estonia).

What happens if a business name doesn't qualify?

The final decision on the suitability of a business name is made by the registry court, which verifies that the business name meets the requirements of the law. If the business name does not meet the requirements of the law, the registrar proposes to choose a new business name within the term set by the registrar.

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