On July 31 2017 the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) published:
- the Rules on the Prohibitions and Restrictions for Enterprise Name Registration; and
- the Rules on the Criteria for Finding Enterprise Names Identical or Similar.
Both documents aim to regulate the examination of enterprise names during registration in order to establish a method of comparison and provide convenience for applicants.
The Rules on the Prohibitions and Restrictions for Enterprise Name Registration comprise 33 articles. They set out the circumstances in which a name:
- cannot be registered as an enterprise name; and
- can be registered as an enterprise name, provided that certain conditions are met.
For example, Article 6 provides that an applied-for enterprise name must not contain any content or text that may deceive or cause misunderstanding among the public. Further, Article 27 addresses the stronger level of protection given to well-known trademarks, 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 the Criteria for Finding Enterprise Names Identical or Similar list the measures that will be taken when an applied-for enterprise name is found to be identical or similar to a prior registration. If identical, the application will be rejected. However, if the name is merely similar, the system will produce a list of similar registrations and alert the applicant that, if it proceeds with the application:
- the application may be rejected; or
- it may be subject to an infringement dispute or ordered to change its name if the application is approved.
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