Mark owners have new right to challenge company names


Trademark owners now have an extra tool to protect marks derived from their trade names, thanks to recent amendments to the laws governing the registration of companies and businesses in Singapore.

Section 27(1) of the amended Companies Act and Section 11(1) of the amended Business Registration Act (both available at Singapore Statutes Online), provide that the registrar of companies and businesses no longer has to check for similar names before approving the registration of a proposed company or business name. Instead, the onus is on the applicant to ensure that the proposed name does not resemble the name of another enterprise.

The registrar will reject a proposed name if the name is:

  • identical to another;

  • undesirable; or

  • of a kind which the government has directed the registrar not to accept.

The registrar has discretion to order a change of name if, upon application by a third party within 12 months of registration of the offending name, he/she is satisfied that (i) a valid complaint has been made out under the grounds of rejection listed above, or (ii) the name "so nearly resembles the name of another company or corporation or a business name as to be likely to be mistaken for it". (The reference to a 'corporation' extends to foreign companies not registered in Singapore.)

Gladys Mirandah, Ella Cheong Mirandah & Sprusons, Singapore

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