What is the requirement of a distinguishable (business) name?
The business name may not be similar to other companies’ business names already entered into the register, and the name of a non-profit association and foundation shall differ from names of other non-profit associations and foundations entered in the register.
The business name of a sole proprietorship shall contain the first and last name of the sole proprietor, and shall not contain an appendage or abbreviation referring to a company. A sole proprietor may have several business names as long as such names are used with regard to different enterprises.
How to check the distinctive character of a (business) name?
A name query allows you to search for identical and similar (business) names and trademarks. The law does not separately provide the rules of distinctiveness. The court keeping the register shall decide whether the name is distinguishable and under the law.
In some cases, merely one letter is sufficient to be different (Pill
), while in another case, even three letters will not be enough (Fotoluks
). To achieve the best results, consider the following:
• the search is not case sensitive;
• look for the word in both the singular and the plural (Lill and Lilled; Kaitseingel and Kaitseinglid), in both the nominative and the possessive case (Lille and Lillede);
• search for words written together or apart and by name parts (Pajulill and Paju Lill; Nordline and Nord Line);
• look for words that have different spelling but the same sounds (Fotoluks and Photolux; Avenue and Avenüü).
if the name in question contains a trademark, the
Estonian Patent Office’s website
, should be visited to find out in which area the trademark is protected.
What is the relationship between the business name and the trademark?
A business name may not contain another person’s trademark, protected as a trademark in Estonia, without the notarised or digitally signed consent of the owner of the trademark. Consent is not required if the undertaking is engaged in an area of activity in respect of which the trademark is not protected or if the selection of the business name does not interfere with the non-protected parts of the trademark (for example, general terms).
The trademark shall be subject to retroactive legal protection upon registration at the time of the application. If the entry of a business name in the commercial register falls between the filing and registration of another person’s trademark application, the owner of the trademark may later request you to change your business name. European Community trademarks also have legal protection in Estonia. In the event of a possible dispute, it shall be determined which has taken place first, the registration of the business name in the commercial register or the filing of the trademark application. Legal protection of a trademark may also result from being well-known and not requiring registration, but such legal protection must be proved separately in court.
The trademark applications pending in Estonia and a link to the European Community trademark database is available on the Estonian Patent Office's website
Additional requirements for (business) names
In addition to distinctiveness, there are additional requirements for the choice of (business) name established by law, which you can get acquainted with by reading the relevant legislation:
Non-profit Associations Act
Apartment Ownership and Apartment Associations Act
Commercial Associations Act
Building Association Act
Churches and Congregations Act