From 14 February 2020, businesses can subscribe to the new Business Name Alert Service to receive monthly notifications on selected business names registered with ACRA.
By subscribing to the Business Name Alert service, business owners will be alerted if another business entity with a name similar* to their own business has been registered with ACRA.
This new service will be useful for businesses that wish to monitor specific business names which may be similar* to their registered trade marks, brand names or registered business names.
Customers no longer need to conduct checks via the directory search in BizFile+ portal to keep track of specific business names registered with ACRA.
*Note: Similar business names refer to names that are not identical but nearly resemble each other as to be likely to be mistaken for each other.
Who can subscribe to the Business Name Alert service
Any authorised officer of a business entity or registered filing agent authorised to file on behalf of the business entity, can sign up for this alert service.
More about the Business Name Alert service
• Free of charge
• Up to 10 business names can be tracked
• Each subscription is valid for three years
• An email will be sent to the subscriber on the last day of every month
• The email will provide a list of ‘live’ business entity names registered or incorporated with ACRA over the past 12 months that match the business names entered by the subscriber. E.g. If ‘ABC Motor Services’ is one of the names entered by the subscriber, you will be notified, if a business entity with the exact business name of ‘ABC Motor Services’ has been registered or incorporated.
Before you subscribe to the name alert service, please note that:
• the name alert service does not serve as the basis for name complaints
• the laws administered by ACRA do not serve to protect intellectual property rights subsiding in registered business names
Click here to find out how to subscribe to Business Name Alert service.
What you should do if there is a similar business name
Similar business names refer to names that are not identical but nearly resemble each other and thus could possibly be mistaken for each other.
Please note that this is different from identical business names which are names that are the same as each other (e.g. ABC Company Pte Ltd vs ABC Corporation Pte Ltd – ‘Company’ and ‘Corporation’ are disregarded where they appear at the end of a business name). The Registrar will reject a business name if it is identical to the business name of another business entity.
If you have a dispute about similar business names, you may wish to lodge a name complaint with ACRA.
Submitting a Name Complaint
The business owner should submit the application to ACRA within 12 months from the registration of the business name that is the subject of the complaint.
Under the law, ACRA will reject all such name complaints submitted after the 12-month period.
Please note that mere similarity between the two business names alone is not a sufficient reason for the Registrar to allow a name complaint application. ACRA will assess all name complaint applications received based on the law, the grounds submitted and all relevant facts and circumstances.
In deciding whether the business names so nearly resemble each other, ACRA will, in addition to the registered names, also consider factors such as whether the business entities are carrying out similar business activities, and there is evidence of public confusion and financial detriment arising from the use of the business names, among others.
Please refer to ACRA's Policy Statement on the Treatment of Business Names and Name Complaints for ACRA’s approach in handling name complaints, and our guide on how to submit an application for name complaint.
Intellectual Property Rights Subsiding in Registered Business Names
Registering a business name does not give the business owner exclusive right to the business name. Registration of a trade mark such as a business name grants the proprietor the exclusive right to use the trade mark, or to authorise others to use the trade mark in relation to the goods and/or services it is applied for, in Singapore.
To register your business name as a trade mark, please refer to https://www.ipos.gov.sg/understanding-innovation-ip/trade-mark
Business owners therefore should not use the name complaint process to request ACRA to enforce intellectual property rights subsiding in registered business names.
An exception is for business owners who have registered the business name as a trade mark and have obtained an injunction against the use of a registered business name under the Trade Marks Act. They may submit a name complaint application on this basis.
Business owners may also want to consider alternative options to seek recourse against a business entity that has registered a similar business name such as:
• taking independent legal action to enforce their intellectual property rights
• negotiating with the other business party for both parties to be able to continue using their business names amicably
• requesting the other business entity to change its business name
• changing their own business names
• informing their own customers to avoid any confusion over name recognition
for Frequently Asked Questions on the Business Name Alert service.