What do I need to consider when choosing a new company name?
Choosing a company name is not as simple as picking a name you like for your company and incorporating it. There are many things that need to be considered, but most importantly that the company name is distinguishable from other company names already registered with the Company Registration Office.
If there is a specific name that you are hoping to use but worry that it may not be distinguishing enough, there is an option to Reserve a Company name before incorporating. This form is called an RCN Form and is filed on CORE for a fee of €25. If the name is accepted, the €25 is taken off the cost of the A1 Form on incorporation. This can save time and resources as opposed to completing and signing a Form A1 and Constitution with a specific name that then ends up being rejected. A name reservation will give the company 28 days to use the name if it is accepted before the name is made available to anyone again.
Are specific names or words prohibited?
The CRO may have to refuse a name if:
- it is identical to or too similar to a name already appearing on the register of companies
- it is offensive
- it would suggest state sponsorship.
Names containing certain words cannot be used unless approved by relevant bodies, for example;
- the words "bank", "banker", "banking", "banc", may only be used with the permission of the Central Bank of Ireland.
- Words such as "society", "co-op" or "co-operative" cannot be used unless prior permission has been sought from and granted by the Registrar of Friendly Societies.
- The words "University"(Ollscoil), "Regional Technical College"(Ceardcholáiste Réigiúnach) and "Institute of Technology" (Institiúid Teicneolaíochta) cannot be used unless permission has been sought from and granted by the Department of Education.
- The word “architect” either alone or in combination with any other words or letters, or name, title or description implying that the person is so registered, cannot be used unless a Notice of Determination has been issued by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI).
- This does not apply to the names “landscape architect”, “naval architect”, “architectural technician”, “architectural technologist”, and “interior design architect” and similar terms.
To add to this;
- If a name includes words which imply specific functions e.g. "holding company", "group" etc., further information may be required by the CRO to support the application.
- In the case of the word "Charity", further information may be sought by the CRO to support the application.
- The use of the word "standard" is prohibited.
- The use of the word “Credit Union” is prohibited under the Credit Union Act 1997.
When assessing whether or not a name may be suitable or accepted, the following guidelines may be useful to consider:
- It is generally recommended that company names include extra words so as to create a sufficient distinction between names. Certain words and their abbreviations together with accents and punctuation marks are not sufficient to distinguish between company names. Examples of such words include the definite article and the words “company”, “co”, “corporation”,“and”, “&”, “service”, “services”, “limited”, etc.
- Place names are not considered to be a sufficient distinction between company names, e.g., Ireland, Dublin, West, etc.
- Similar descriptive elements, e.g., press/printing, staff/employment agency, or the inclusion of only a general or weak qualification such as “holding”, “group”, “system”, “services”, “international”, etc. may not be regarded as a sufficient distinction between company names.
- Particular care should be taken with names considered to have a distinctive element i.e., names consisting primarily of made-up words or non-dictionary words. The inclusion of qualifying words may not be sufficient to create a distinction between company names.
- Names which are phonetically and/or visually similar will be refused. This includes names where there is a slight variation in the spelling and the variation does not make a significant difference between the names.
- A number on its own will not be accepted as a sufficient distinguishing mark, unless the company concerned is part of the same group.
- The use of a year in numerals to differentiate between two companies of otherwise the same name is prohibited.
If you require assistance or advice, please contact our Company Secretarial team on 053 91 000 00 or email [email protected]
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The contents of this article are meant as a guide only and are not a substitute for professional advice. The authors accept no responsibility for any action taken, or refrained from, as a result of the material contained in this document. Specific advice should be obtained before acting or refraining from acting, in connection with the matters dealt with in this article.