A well-chosen business name is simple, unique, search-friendly, memorable and easy to recognise.  Before deciding on a business name, it is wise to ensure that the name is not already in use.  Bearing in mind that you will probably want to set up a website, it is also worthwhile doing a search to make sure that the domain name is not already taken.

Prior to the Companies Act 71 of 2008 (Companies Act) and the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA), many people simply bought a ‘shelf company’ or ‘close corporation’ with non-distinctive names and then traded under a different name. There were no requirements to register a trade name, and this often resulted in the infringement of third party trademarks.  This is no longer allowed.

Some important points to remember when registering a business name:

  • a business name may contain words in any language, certain symbols, any letters, numbers or punctuation either alone or in combination (certain restrictions apply)
  • any word, expression or symbol that constitutes propaganda for war, violence or hatred may not be used in a company name
  • the word “bank”, “deposit-taking institution” or “building society” in a business name is not allowed, unless the business is registered as a deposit-taking institution, or unless the business is incorporated under the Banks Act 94 of 1990 or any other relevant legislation
  • a business name must not falsely imply that the business is associated with other persons or entities, the state and its related bodies, or persons or bodies with an educational title
  • certain words must appear in/at the end of a business’s name
  • a business name must not be the same/confusingly like the name of another business entity or trademark

Also note that certain restrictions apply to the use of your business name in written communications.

If you need any help with naming or setting up your new business, please contact our offices.