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Tips on picking name for your company

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Setting up a company is a challenge but thinking of a company/brand name can be more challenging. The name you choose will be the name that your customers will identify you so it should define the image you want to portray.

But what names are allowed? What should you consider before thinking of a company name in Singapore? We have come up with a comprehensive list of tips you can check out to help you come up with a perfect name.

No obscene names

First off, just stay away from obscene names. These names may be considered undesirable under section 7 of the Business Names Registration Act. So stay away from names that can cause people to feel uncomfortable or distressed. The ACRA or the Singapore Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority is the agency that approves your business and they don’t like it when you get too smart.

Use caution around some words that may require additional licences

Some ordinary sounding words trigger closer inspection from regulatory bodies where additional licences may be needed. These include words like “Academy” (which get sent to the education authorities). Also beware of words like “education”, “university”, “bank”, and “insurance”, for similar reasons.

No already existing names (but you might have a chance if the name is only reserved or if the company has been dissolved)

Next, check if the name you are considering is not identical to any other active or reserved business name that are already approved by the ACRA.

 

If you have an idea for a company name that is reserved, you can wait it out – reserved names are only held for up to 120 days. After 120 days, the names can be used by other entities upon appeal. ACRA can also allow entities to use the name of another business that has dissolved or has ceased to exist in Singapore after a set amount of time upon appeal.

How to use the search function on ACRA

If you are interested in knowing whether the name in your mind is identical to an existing or already reserved name, you can use the Entity Search Function that you can find on the ACRA Bizfile website. In order to maximize the search function, ACRA has published search guidelines.

  1. Aside from searching the full name of your business, you should also search for a part of your proposed business name and its variations. If you are planning to use the name WordPad Stationeries, you should search for “WordPad, Word Pad, Word-Pad, WordPod” and other variations.

  2. You should also check for names that have a similar pronunciation with your business name. For example, if your proposed business name includes the word “Who” then you might need to look for “Hu”, “Whu” and other things that sound the same

  3. Also check for variations of your proposed company name that has a difference in sequence. For example, if you are going to go with Four Two Zero Technologies then you should search for “Two Four Zero”, “Zero Two Four”, or” Four Zero Two”, and other variations.

  4. It will also be wise to look for business names that have similar meanings as the one you are proposing. If your planned name is Red Car Gaming then you might want to search for “Red Automobile, Red Motor, or Red Machine”.

After doing the search, the site will then give you a list of company names that may be similar to what you have. There’s a list of words or elements you can disregard when deciding whether your proposed name is similar to another name. These include:

Similar-sounding names

After doing the search, the site will then give you a list of company names that may be similar to what you have. There’s a list of words or elements you can disregard when deciding whether your proposed name is similar to another name. These include:

  • The word “the” (so for example ‘Super Great Software Pte Ltd’ and ‘The Super Great Software Pte Ltd’ are considered the same)
  • Suffixes that relate to the type of legal entity the business is like Ltd for Limited or Pte for Private.
  • Some words or expressions that appear at the end of names such as ‘corporation’, .com, ‘International’, ‘Singapore’, ‘Asia Pacific’ or World Wide. (‘eg Super Great Software’ and ‘Super Great Software Asia Pacific’ are the same for ACRA purposes)
  • The plural form of the name.
  • The type and case of the letters, spacing, and punctuation marks.

While ACRA might be strict about identical names, you can go and use a company name that is similar to an existing name. This is often exploited by some new and upcoming companies to ride off the coattails of an established brand. However, this is not advisable as you can be sued for the tort of passing off. This is when an established brand suspects another company is imitating their business so that people will pass their company as the existing and bigger one.

No luck? Don’t worry, your “trading name” can be different from your “legal name”

A company can have a legal name that is different from its ‘trading name’, or the name it uses on its signage.  For example, your company name might be Cool Guys Software Technologies Pte Ltd – but you might have a logo and trade/advertise under the name “Cool Guys”.

 

Unlike other countries, there’s no requirement to file your trading name with ACRA. There are however requirements for disclosure of the underlying business or company’s registered name and unique entity number – so you would still need to disclose your legal company name on your website, contracts, invoices, and other ‘official’ documentation.

 

We would recommend if you take this path that you check that no competitors or companies in the same industry – eg software development in our example above – are using your trading name “Cool Guys”.

Next steps

Once you’ve got a name that you think will go the distance, you’ll need to register your company with the relevant authorities. At Sleek, registering a company is as easy as buying a plane ticket – get in touch with us to find out more.

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