Company name instructions
A company name can be formed in many ways. For example, it can be a totally invented word, or as quite often is the case, a combination of the name of a place and the type of business. Person's own name can also be used as a company name.
The Trade Register checks the company name filings in following respects:
- Indication of corporate form
- Family names
A company name must contain an indication of corporate form:
Indications of parallel company names. Auxiliary company names cannot contain any indication of corporate form.
Indications of corporate form:
Indication not mandatory. ”Tmi” or ”Toiminimi” are often used in practice.
"Osakeyhtiö" or "oy".
Public limited company
"Julkinen osakeyhtiö" or "oyj"
Real estate corporation or mutual real estate corporation
"Osakeyhtiö" or "oy", because this is a limited company. The words "real estate" or "mutual real estate" need not be included, even though this is often done in practice.
"Kommandiittiyhtiö" or "ky". The name shall not include the name of a silent partner.
"Avoin yhtiö" (NB. the abbreviation "ay" must not be used). Family names of the partners, for example "Virtanen & Sjölund" are accepted as indications of a partnership; hence "avoin yhtiö" need not be included in the name.
"Osuuskunta", "Osuus-" or the abbreviation "osk". Person names must not be included.
Branch of a foreign trader
The name of a branch shall include the company name of the foreign trader in its registered form with an addition that indicates that it is a branch. The addition can be for example "sivuliike Suomessa" (branch in Finland), "filial i Finland" (in Swedish") or ""filial".
A company name shall individualise the business of its owner. In practice, this quite difficult expression means that a company name shall not include
- a simple indication of the type of business (e.g. Construction Company Ltd)
- name of the goods or services offered (Candy Wholesaler Ltd, Business Consultants Ltd)
- common first or family names (John Ltd, Smith Ltd)
- general place-names (Helsinki Ltd)
- combinations of letters and figures that cannot be pronounced as words (XVX Ltd, 100 Ltd, X4R=66 Ltd)
- phrases or utterances (We serve clients Ltd, Guarantee price on products Ltd)
A business cannot obtain exclusive right to any of these through registration. In practice, names of this kind can be registered after something else is added to them, such as a place-name, a person name, an inventive word or letter combination etc.
A company name must differ from names that have already been registered. The registration authority must be able to make a distinction between the names. Therefore, a company name that is similar or very much alike another registered name cannot be registered. The names must not be identical in writing or when pronounced. Different indications of corporate form do not make the names more distinctive.
- "Jarcom Ltd" and "Jarcom General Partnership" cannot be registered side by side, because the corporate form does not make a distinction between them.
- "Besstion" and "Bestion" cannot be registered side by side, because they are identical with regard to their pronunciation.
A company name shall not be confusable with another's protected company name, secondary symbol or trademark.
As a norm, confusability comes into consideration only if the lines of business are the same or very similar. By simplification it can be said that company names within the same or very similar lines of business must differ more from each other than those in different lines of business. If the owner of a conflicting company name gives his written consent to the registration, a company name may be registered despite its confusability. The deed of consent has to be enclosed to the registration notice.
Examples of company names that are confusable in the same line of business:
- "LP Construction" and "LP Constructor"
- "Net-Wedge Ltd" and "Net-Wedge Finland Ltd"
- "Kulta-Katriina" (trademark for coffee) and "Kahvikauppa Kulta-Katriina" (Coffee shop Kulta-Katriina).
A company name shall not, without proper permission, contain anything that can be understood as the family name of somebody else. The use of one's own name on the other hand is quite usual. The registration authority usually regards as family names those names that are used only as family names and that therefore do not have a specific meaning. However, first names can be used freely, as for example "Toy Shop Laura". The business need not employ anyone by that name.
For example, "Art Shop Virtanen" requires that the business operator's family name is Virtanen.
"Art Shop Metso" can be registered even if the business operator's family name is not Metso, because in Finnish the word "metso" is also a noun meaning the bird 'western capercaillie'.
A company name shall neither contain (without permission) anything that can be construed as
- another's artist name or the title of another person's protected literary or artistic work
- the protected national or international designation or abbreviation of the designation
- the name of a foundation or an association or similar organisation
A company name shall not be liable to mislead the public. One misleads the public for example if the company name contains another name than the trader's, or when a company name refers to other business than what has been reported for registration as the company's line of business. In addition, a company name shall not conflict with morality and public order. Therefore, it must not refer, for example, to some illegal phenomenon or contain swear words.