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Exclusive right to a company name

You get an exclusive right to a company name by having the name registered or established.

Registration gives nation-wide protection

Registration is the easiest way of obtaining an exclusive right to a company name. We will not register two identical names, nor do we register two similar names if they are used in the same line of business or if they are so similar that they could be confused easily.

An exclusive right to a company name confers on its owner the right to prohibit others in Finland from using a company name that could be confused with the owner’s registered company name. The only circumstances where this is not the case is where the other party can prove that the owner will not suffer damage from the use of a similar trade mark.

Before registration, we examine the registrability of the suggested name:

  • Under the Finnish Company Names Act, the name must be individual and distinctive, and it must not be likely to be confused with a company name or a trademark that has been registered or filed earlier.
  • When assessing whether a name can be registered, we consider its spelling, pronunciation and the line of business it is used in.

Protection through establishment

If a business has used a certain company name for a long time and to such an extent that it is commonly associated with that business, the name may be protected on the basis of establishment. The name is then commonly associated with the business in question in the area where it has become established.

Please note that even if a company name is established it is possible that another business could register the same or a similar company name, because we only take into account names that are known to us, in other words registered or pending company names.

In case of conflict, the business with the established company name must substantiate its right to the name, ultimately in a court of law, if necessary. Therefore, as the registration procedure is very simple, it is advisable that those businesses for which registration is not mandatory also register their company name (for example private traders not obliged to register with the Trade Register).

Registration practice

The Trade Register contains over half a million registered company names, and each day we register about 150 new company names or auxiliary company names. With the great number of company names it can happen that even similar names are registered. Registration is denied if it is apparent on the basis of the documents submitted that the name suggestion is likely to be confused with an earlier registered name; instead, the company is invited to file a new name suggestion.

The likelihood of confusion may be considered if the names or trademarks have been filed for registration or registered in the same or a similar field. In practice, confusing similarity may lead to clients mistaking one business for another business.

General concepts cannot be exclusively owned; for example, if "Suomi Removals" is already registered, other companies can register "Helsinki Removals", or "Espoo Removals", because you cannot get an exclusive right to the word "removals".

We recommend that you state your line of business unambiguously and clearly. If you phrase the line of business very extensively and imprecisely, it will be very difficult for us to know what kinds of operations we should take into account when assessing the possibility of confusion.

Company name infringement

Several things can lead to confusion of names even after registration. For example, the way a company name is actually used and the form in which it is used is significant. In order to eliminate confusing similarity, we primarily recommend that you negotiate with the opposite party. In the last resort, company name disputes are settled in a court of law.

In practice, disputes arise especially when businesses do not use the company name in its registered form, but the most distinctive part of it only. We do not have the capacity to supervise how the company name is actually used.

Please note that the name is protected only in the form in which it has been registered. Since we do not have the capacity to supervise how company names are actually used, the responsibility for the use of the name lies with the business.

Disputes and application cases under the Finnish Company Names Act are heard by the Finnish Market Court. Charges of company name infringement can be brought before the Helsinki District Court.

Revocation of a company name

If the court revokes the registration, we remove the company name from the Trade Register.

You can also apply for revocation of a company name at our office if the company name has not been used for the last five years and the holder of the company name does not give an acceptable reason for the non-use. Go to our instructions: How to apply for revocation of a registered company name at PRH.

Printable version Latest update 29.05.2024