The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) released, on July 31, 2017, the “Rules on Prohibition and Restriction for Enterprise Name Registration” and the “Rules on Criteria for Finding Enterprise Names Identical or Similar”. Both documents aim to regulate the examination of enterprise name registration, to establish a method of comparison, and to provide convenience for applicants.
The Rules on Prohibition and Restriction for Enterprise Name Registration includes 33 articles, detailing issues surrounding the prohibition and restriction for enterprise name registration. It sets out the circumstances where names may not be registered as enterprise names, and describes circumstances where names may be registered provided certain conditions are met. For example, it is provided in Article 6 that an applied enterprise name shall not contain any content or text that may be deceiving or causing misunderstanding among the public. Article 27 deals with stronger protection over well-known trademarks by providing that “A well-known trademark recognized by the SAIC shall not be used by another practitioner in the same industry as its enterprise name, unless licensed by the owner of the said well-known trademark”.
The Rules on Criteria for Finding Enterprise Names Identical or Similar lists the measures that shall be taken when an applied enterprise name is found identical or similar with a prior registration. If identical, the application will be rejected. Whereas if the name is only similar, the system will produce a list of similar registrations and alert the applicant that if he still insists to proceed with the application, 1) it is possible that his application may be rejected; or 2) even though his application is approved, the applied name may face infringement dispute in actual use or even be mandated to be changed.