Registration of company name can be a tedious task, especially if the preferred names of the owners are only reserved or taken. Problems may arise when one will apply for a company or business name that has been taken previously by an already established enterprise. Filing of complaints or lawsuits and even delay in the approval of the application process are just some of the problems that might be encountered when preliminary research regarding company names registration is not done by the company owners or the filing agents of an establishment. However, when a proposed company name is unique and the business’ scope is not an issue, application process to get the approval of a company’s name can be a smooth-sailing task for the owners or filing agents.
An agency in Singapore who is the city-state’s national regulator for business entities, corporate service workers, and business entities, Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority or ACRA for short, handles the business name registration of companies who wish to locate their businesses in Singapore. The agency’s work basically resolves around monitoring the corporate compliances and facilitating the progress of the business entities to ensure that Singapore stays the best and trusted place for doing business. ACRA gets applications for company names, has the right to refuse them when certain conditions are not met, transfers the application process to a different agency for review if deemed necessary, and finally approves the applications if a problem or issue is no longer encountered.
How to cross check a company’s name
- A filing agent or the company’s owner can do a preliminary research before filing an application process to ACRA. By using the BizFile+, ACRA’s online system for filing and information retrieval, one can immediately know if their proposed company names, three at least, have an identical entry in the system. ACRA has the right to refuse applications that have similar names or words to an already registered company and those names, which are identical phonetically. One can opt to do the research as well in the Internet in search engine sites such as Google and Yahoo where most information are available to everyone with just a single click.
- To speed up the process of the preliminary researching, owners or filing agents can do the following:
- If the proposed name is with initials, input various combinations of the name in BizFile+ or Google. As an example, if the proposed company name is RSJ Services, one can search for “RS”, “SR, “SJ Services”, “JSR Services”, “JSR” etcetera. By doing so, the one filing the application process can make sure that no company has the same name in spelling or in sound.
- One has to make sure as well that the proposed company name doesn’t have a similar pronunciation with an already established business. Names might be spelled differently, but if they are pronounced similarly, ACRA might see this as a problem and could delay the approval process. If proposed name is “Lou”, one has to look for possible spellings such “Luo”, “Lu”, or “Loo” to make sure that there will be no similarities.
- If the preferred name is something like the “The Biz”, one could double check names such as “Biz”, “D Biz”, “De Biz”, “D. Biz” etcetera.
- Different sequences in names could also be a problem, so one has to make sure to cross check names that may be in a different sequence than your proposed company name. For example, if the preferred name is “Super Express”, one can look for “Express Super”.
- Check for names that are different in spelling but have the same meaning, as well as similar names in the same industry. For example, if the proposed name is “Furniture Transportation”, one should look for “Furniture Tansport” or “Furniture Forwarding”.
- It is also considered similar when some common descriptive words are used in a name, proposed and already established. Some possible examples are trade and trading, marketing and enterprise, and forwarding and delivery. The filing agent or owner has to double check that the descriptive they will apply for will not be the identical to another company even if spellings are different, although meaning the same thing.
- Punctuation marks, and words such as names of places and countries are not distinguishing as per ACRA’s guidelines. For example, if proposed name is “Wonderfeet Travel and Tours Singapore” and there is already an established company whose name is “Wonderfeet Travel and Tours”, ACRA might require the starting business for a change of name. Putting a punctuation mark as well will not distinguish the proposed name from others that are already registered.
- Owners or filing agents can opt to go to the city-state’s clerk office as well to do a cross check before applying for a company name. The clerk’s office might have some files of the active businesses in Singapore that you can use to research for possible duplicates or names with similarities to your proposed company names.
These are some of the steps and guidelines that could help a company owner save time when applying for a company name to ACRA. The owners must prepare at least three preferred company names so that they will have a fall back. By providing three names, ACRA could already proceed to the next two proposed names when first option is no longer available. Possible refusal by ACRA could be avoided as well when three names are provided during the application process. In conclusion, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to do a preliminary investigation before applying for a company name. Several steps have to be taken to ensure a faster and safer application. When thinking of a company name, company owners have to be really creative while being careful. With a unique name, owners, or their filing agents, can ensure that they have a name uniquely on their own, no duplicates or similarities to other already established companies. This will save them time with the application process and can help them start their businesses at the soonest possible time.